Orders to factories for "big ticket" durable goods jumped 3.8 percent in June, pulled up primarily by a big increase at aircraft manufacturers, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.
It was the best rise in six months and followed a period of weakness that saw orders drop four out of the previous five months.
The June increase, which brought orders to a seasonally adjusted $131.6 billion, was much bigger than predicted by economists. However, about two-thirds of the rise was accounted for by the volatile aircraft sector.
Durable goods - long-lasting expensive items such as steel beams, cars, computers and appliances - are considered a crucial barometer of the economy's strength.
Analysts have been concerned about manufacturing activity this year and yesterday's increase, because it was so heavily concentrated in one industry, is not likely to completely assuage their worries.