New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in February, but a surge in shipments amid demand for machinery and electrical equipment supported expectations for an acceleration in business investment in the first quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Friday that non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dipped 0.1 percent last month after rising 0.1 percent in January.
Shipments of these so-called core capital goods jumped 1.0 percent after declining 0.3 percent in January. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders rising 0.6 percent last month.
Orders for machinery inched up 0.1 percent while shipments increased 0.9 percent. Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components advanced 2.2 percent, the biggest increase in seven months, and shipments rose 1.5 percent.