Aircraft orders lift US durable goods in November

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Washington (AFP)

A bump in orders for civilian and defense aircraft sent US durable goods orders higher in November while auto sales also posted strong gains, according to government data published Friday.

But outside the volatile transportation sector, sales of big-ticket US-manufactured items retreated for the month, with machinery and communications equipment suffering notably -- breaking a four-month streak of gains.

Total orders for durable goods rose just 1.3 percent for the month, according to the Commerce Department, significantly below the 2.1 percent gain that analysts had been expecting.

The undershoot could weigh on expectations for GDP growth in the fourth quarter. Year-to-date, orders are 5.4 percent higher than the same period of 2016.

Sales of civilian aircraft jumped 14.5 percent for the month to $12.5 billion, offsetting some of the 15.8 percent decline in the prior month. Defense aircraft rebounded 11.9 percent, after October's 7.3 percent dip.

Cars, trucks and auto parts, which have had a difficult 2017, saw sales increase for the second straight month, rising 1.4 percent.

However, excluding the volatile transport sector, durables orders fell 0.1 percent, far worse than a consensus forecast, which expected to see a 0.4 percent gain.

Sales of communications equipment dived 3.3 percent while machinery fell 1.1 percent, the lowest level since May of last year.

Sales of non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, a sector tied closely to the oil exploration and drilling sector, fell 0.1 percent for the month