Orders for long-lasting US manufactured goods edged higher in August and gave a signal that the factory sector gained a step midway through the third quarter.
Durable goods orders rose 0.1% during the month, the Commerce Department said today.
The report showed that shipments of non-military capital goods other than aircraft grew 1.3% during the month, snapping two months of declines in a row.
The reading for these "core" shipments feeds directly into the US government's estimates for total economic growth, and the increase supports the view that government austerity is taking only a modest bite from national output.
New orders for core durable goods, which are viewed as a gauge of business spending plans, rose 1.5% in August. That was below economists' expectations and not enough to make up for the 3.3% decline registered in July.
Demand for new cars drove the overall gain in new orders of durable goods, which include everything from toasters to tanks. Economists had expected overall goods orders to be flat. But excluding transportation, new orders fell 0.1%.