Durable-Goods Orders Up Sharply

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods were surprisingly strong in October, boosted by brisk demand for new aircraft and communications equipment, the government said on Wednesday in a report that showed business spending gaining speed.

Orders climbed 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted $184.53 billion — far ahead of Wall Street economists' forecasts for a 0.8 percent gain — while September's increase was revised up sharply to a 2.1 percent orders pickup, the Commerce Department (search) said. Previously, the department said orders were up 1.1 percent in September.

The jump in October orders was the largest in more than a year, since an 8.1 percent surge in July 2002, and fit with other signs that businesses were picking up the pace on investment amid evidence the broader economy is strengthening.

Durables are goods intended to last three years or more and the monthly measure is known for its volatility and is frequently revised.

On Tuesday, Commerce said gross domestic product (search), or GDP, shot ahead at an 8.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter in large part because of stronger corporate and consumer spending.

Orders for communications equipment soared 25 percent in October to $10.02 billion after a 14.8 percent September increase. New orders for commercial aircraft rose 22 percent to $5.69 billion following a 5.1 percent decline in September.

Non-defense capital goods (search) orders excluding aircraft, which many economists see as a gauge of business expansion plans, rose 1.7 percent to $59.09 billion in October after a 5.8 percent September increase.