Durable goods orders rise in September

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday durable goods orders excluding transportation rose 1.7 percent after falling 0.4 percent in August. The rise beat economists' expectations for a 0.4 percent increase.

But a drop in demand for transportation equipment as bookings for motor vehicles and civilian aircraft declined pulled down overall orders 0.8 percent. That followed a 0.1 percent dip in August and was in line with economists' expectations for a 0.9 percent fall.

Transportation orders fell 7.5 percent, the largest decline since April.

The tenor of the report was further strengthened by a 2.4 percent jump in non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending. That was the largest increase since March.

That category increased 0.5 percent in August, and last month's increase was well above economists' expectations for a 0.5 percent rise.

The report was further evidence that economic activity picked up in the third quarter after a weak first half. Though manufacturing has slowed in recent months, the September durable goods report pointed to underlying resilience. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Andrea Ricci)