New orders for U.S. manufactured goods rose more than expected in December on strong demand for aircraft, while a rebound in a gauge of business spending plans suggested investment closed the year on the upswing.
Durable goods orders climbed 3.0 percent after rising an upwardly revised 4.3 percent in November, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
Economists had forecast orders rising 2.0 percent from a previously reported 3.7 percent increase.
Durable goods range from toasters to big-ticket items like aircraft which are meant to last three years and more.
Excluding transportation, orders rose 2.1 percent.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, advanced 2.9 percent.
Business spending, which has helped the economy to recover from the 2007-09 recession, had been cooling the previous two months of the fourth quarter but December's rebound suggested corporations might be growing more willing to invest.
The business spending proxy had dropped 1.2 percent in November and 0.9 percent in October. Economists' had expected a 1.0 percent gain last month.
Orders for durable goods last month were buoyed by 5.5 percent increase in bookings for transportation equipment as orders for civilian aircraft surged 18.9 percent.
Boeing received 287 orders for aircraft during the month, according to the plane maker's website, up from 96 in November.
Orders for motor vehicles edged up 0.6 percent.
Shipments of non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, which go into the calculation of gross domestic product, rose 2.9 percent after declining 1.0 percent in November.