WASHINGTON – U.S. businesses stepped up their spending on industrial machinery, steel, and other big-ticket items last month, a sign that one of the economy's weak spots may be improving.
The Commerce Department says a measure that tracks business investment rose 0.9 percent in November, after a slight 0.2 percent rise the previous month. Yet those gains follow a 1.5 percent drop in September.
Orders for all big-ticket factory goods fell 4.6 percent, mostly because of a sharp fall in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile category. Excluding transportation-related goods, orders rose 0.5 percent.
The data suggests businesses may be loosening their purse strings after more than a year of cutbacks that have weighed on the economy. Business investment spending is down 3.9 percent this year compared with 2015.