NEW YORK --With increases in defense and autos offsetting declines for other goods, new orders for durable goods were essentially flat in November, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday.
Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said the data were "at least somewhat positive" but that U.S. manufacturing remains challenged.
"The manufacturing sector still looks fairly weak -- weaker than non-manufacturing, reflecting more exposure to declining exports, a plunge in oil-related investment and an inventory cycle," he said.
Orders for manufactured goods that typically last three years or longer rose by $100 million to $238.8 billion in November.
That was the second straight month of higher overall orders, although the gain was far below the 2.9% rise in October.
Transportation equipment orders, typically a volatile area, rose $300 million in November to $82.2 billion, with orders for defense aircraft jumping nearly 50% to $8.2 billion and orders for motor vehicle and parts up 1.5%t to $52.4 billion.
Excluding defense, durable orders fell 1.5%. Orders for machinery, computers and primary metal goods all fell.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015