WASHINGTON A gauge of planned U.S. business spending rose more than expected in June and new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods surged, offering tentative signs of a pickup in economic activity.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, increased 0.7 percent after rising by a revised 2.2 percent in May.
Economists had expected this category to only rise 0.5 percent after a previously reported 1.5 percent gain in May.
Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods jumped 4.2 percent as demand for goods ranging from aircraft to machinery improved. Orders for these goods, which range from toasters to aircraft, had increased by a revised 5.2 percent in May.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected orders for durable goods to rise only 1.3 percent after a previously reported 3.7 percent increase the prior month.
The gains in both the so-called core capital goods and durable goods orders were consistent with other manufacturing data that have suggested factory activity is regaining some momentum after hitting a soft patch earlier this year.
The sustained gains bolster expectations of a reacceleration in economic growth in the second half of the year.
Last month, shipments of core capital goods - used to calculate equipment and software spending in the gross domestic product report, fell 0.9 percent. That followed a 1.9 percent increase in May and pointed to moderate growth in business spending on capital equipment in the second quarter.
Last month, demand for transportation equipment increased 12.8 percent, buoyed by a surge in orders for civilian aircraft.
Boeing received orders for 287 aircraft, adding to May's 232 tally, according to information posted on its website. Orders for motor vehicles advanced 1.3 percent after falling 0.8 percent the prior month.
Orders excluding transportation were flat. There were gains in orders for machinery and fabricated metal products. However, orders for computers and electronic products, and electrical equipment, appliances and components fell.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)