WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in December, suggesting a moderation in business spending on equipment after strong gains in 2017.
The Commerce Department said on Friday that orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.3 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.2 percent gain in November.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast orders for these so-called core capital goods orders rising 0.5 percent last month after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in November.
Core capital goods shipments gained 0.6 percent after an upwardly revised 0.4 percent rise in November. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.
They were previously reported to have slipped 0.1 percent in November. The figures were included in the advance fourth-quarter GDP estimate, which was published on Friday.
Business spending on equipment increased at an 11.4 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, contributing to the economy’s 2.6 percent growth pace during that period. The economy grew at a 3.2 percent rate in the July-September quarter.
Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci