US durable goods orders up 2.6 percent in March

Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose 2.6 percent in March, but a key category that tracks business investment spending fell for the third month out of the past four.

The Commerce Department says the big rise in orders for durable goods, which followed an even bigger 3.5 percent advance in February, was driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft. That shot up 44.5 percent last month. Excluding the volatile transportation category, orders would have been flat last month after a modest 0.9 percent rise in February.

The key category that follows business investment plans edged down 0.1 percent in March after a 0.9 percent increase in February. This investment category was also down in January and December, raising concerns about this important driver of economic growth.