Orders for long-lasting goods rose 3 percent in December, a sign the manufacturing sector continues to bolster a slow economic recovery.
The third consecutive monthly increase in durable-goods orders followed a 4.3 percent increase in November. For the year, new orders for durable goods rose 10 percent after rising 15.5 percent in 2010 and plunging 27.6 percent in 2009.
The manufacturing data followed news this week of continuing strength in surface transportation shipments. For-hire truck tonnage in December was up 10.5 percent from a year earlier and finished the year with a 5.9 percent gain, the biggest increase since 1998, the American Trucking Associations said.
December’s increase in durable-goods orders was broad-based. Seasonally adjusted orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a key barometer, rose 2.9 percent. Unfilled orders, an indicator of future demand, rose 1.5 percent, the strongest increase since March 2008.
Increases were posted in orders for commercial aircraft, machinery, communications equipment and primary metals. Orders for electrical equipment and fabricated metals declined. Shipments of durable goods rose by 2.1 percent last month. Inventories increased 0.3 percent.