New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose more than expected in January as civilian aircraft bookings soared, but slipped excluding transportation, government data showed on Thursday.
The Commerce Department said durable goods orders jumped 3.0 percent, the biggest gain since July, after an upwardly revised 1.9 percent increase in December.
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast orders rising 1.5 percent last month from December's previously reported 1.0 percent advance.
The surge in orders likely reflected the 59 aircraft bookings received by Boeing in December, which analysts said had not been fully accounted for in the durables report for that month. In addition, Boeing received 10 aircraft orders in January, according to information posted on the company's website.
Non-defense aircraft and parts orders surged 126 percent last month after a 28.3 percent drop in December. Defense aircraft orders climbed 11.6 percent after a 22.7 percent rise the prior month.
Durable goods orders are a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, which in turn provides a good measure for overall business health.
However, new durable goods orders excluding transportation unexpectedly fell 0.6 percent last month after increasing 2.0 percent in December. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new orders excluding transportation to rise 1.0 percent. The decline came as orders for machinery saw their biggest decline in a year.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, fell 2.9 percent in January from a 3.3 percent rise the prior month.
Durable goods inventories were flat last month after easing 0.2 percent in December. Shipments, which go into the calculation of gross domestic product, slipped 0.2 percent in January. They rose 2.4 percent in December.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)