WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New orders for U.S.-made goods rose in August and orders for core capital goods were stronger than previously reported, suggesting robust business spending could help offset some of the economic drag of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Factory goods orders increased 1.2 percent as demand for a range of goods rose, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Orders fell by an unrevised 3.3 percent in July.
Economists had forecast factory orders increasing 1.0 percent in August. The Commerce Department said it was unable to isolate the impact of Harvey and Irma on the data as the survey is “designed to estimate the month-to-month change in manufacturing activity at the national level and not at specific geographic areas.”
Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft - seen as a measure of business spending plans - jumped 1.1 percent in August instead of the 0.9 percent increase reported last month.
Orders for these so-called core capital goods advanced 1.3 percent in July. Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, shot up 1.1 percent instead of the previously reported 0.7 percent rise.
Strong business spending on equipment is helping to underpin manufacturing, which makes up about 12 percent of the U.S. economy. Business investment in equipment grew at its fastest pace in nearly two years in the second quarter.
Spending is rising despite signs of slowing oil and gas drilling as ample supplies restrain crude oil prices.
In August, orders for machinery gained 0.3 percent after rising 0.2 percent in July. Mining, oil field and gas field machinery orders dropped 5.1 percent after leaping 3.7 percent in July.
Orders for transportation equipment advanced 5.1 percent, reflecting a 44.8 percent surge in civilian aircraft orders.
Motor vehicle orders rose 0.7 percent after declining 2.2 percent in July. Further gains are likely in September as residents in the areas ravaged by Harvey and Irma replace flood-damaged vehicles. Major automakers on Tuesday posted higher U.S. new motor vehicle sales for September.
Motor vehicle sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 18.57 million units in September from 17.72 million units a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.
Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao