Orders for long-lasting durable goods (search) rose by a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent in September, held back by another sharp fall in commercial aircraft, government data showed on Wednesday.

Wall Street had forecast a 0.5 percent increase in orders for big-ticket items meant to last at least three years. The previous month was also revised lower, to down 0.6 percent from an earlier reported 0.3 percent fall.

Orders excluding the volatile transportation equipment category rose 1.7 percent after a 2.8 percent advance the previous month while demand for commercial aircraft fell 16.3 percent after shrinking 46.3 percent in August.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft — a proxy for business spending — were up 2.6 percent. Analysts had been counting on a solid showing in this category and this may add to confidence of stronger growth in the third quarter following a soft-spot in the previous three months.

The advance reading of third-quarter gross domestic product is due on Friday and analysts expect to see 4.2 percent annualized growth after a 3.3 percent gain in the second quarter.

Computers and electronic products, up 9.3 percent, registered their largest gain since June 2000's 17.2 percent rise, while orders for machinery advanced 2.9 percent.