Orders for durable-goods items rose 2.7 percent in January, the first such increase since September, reported the Commerce Department said.

However, the higher demand was largely due to the aircraft sector.

Excluding a 27.6 percent increase from the transportation sector, orders fell 3.6 percent last month, the poorest performance since January 2009.

The Commerce Department also said that orders for core capital equipment goods dropped 6.9 percent in January, after a 4.3 percent increase in December.

Core shipments declined by 2.5 percent, follows gains of 2.5 percent in December and 1.5 percent in November.

Declines were reported primarily in machinery, computers and electrical equipment, although motor vehicles showed a small gain.

 “The deceleration in the rate of business equipment spending in the second half of 2010, and in early 2011, reflects a normalization of spending trends on equipment and software relative to a blistering pace in the first half of 2010,” said IHS Global Insight Chief U.S. Financial Economist Brian Bethune.

“However, corporations and businesses continue to crank out strong earnings growth (excluding the distortion from temporary tax measures) – and that will continue to be a major driver of business equipment spending.”

Bethune added that productivity mandates in major businesses remain aggressive.

“Together with the generous bonus depreciation allowances that Congress passed in December 2010, this should provide a boost to business investment, particularly in 2011,” he noted. “As a result, real equipment and software still is expected to make a solid contribution to overall real GDP growth for the second year in a row.