In data released Wednesday by the Department of Commerce, factory orders for September rose 2.1%, more than expected, or $8.8 billion, for a total of $420 billion. Economists had expected only a rise of 1.6%, according to a Reuters forecast. This was the largest increase in eight months.
New orders, less the volatile transportation sector, rose 0.4%. The figures for August’s new orders, also without transportation included, were revised upward to 1.3%; the original was 0.9%.
Transportation itself was up the most, $7.5 billion or 15.8%, to $54.8 billion, with commercial aircraft orders more than double the previous month and orders for ships and boats up 19.2%.
Another pricey sector, machinery, was up by 2.2%, and long-term investment in defense goods gained 8.5%, reaching a level not seen since January.
Without defense included, factory orders were up by 1.9% in September, and the August numbers were revised upward from the original estimate of a 0.5% decline to a 0.1% increase.
Appliance orders were down by 0.2% and computer and electronics orders dropped by 2.7%, but durable goods were up 3.5%, furniture was up 1.1%, and nondurable goods increased by 0.9%. Chemical products saw their third consecutive month of increases, coming in at 1.4%, or $0.8 billion, to $60.8 billion.
In another indication that the economy may be moving toward recovery, consumer spending was also up, at 1.0%; in August spending was flat.