US durable orders ex-transportation surge in Nov

WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - New orders for U.S. manufactured goods excluding transportation rose more than expected in November, to record their largest gain in eight months, according to a government report on Thursday that pointed to continued strength in the manufacturing sector.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders excluding transportation increased 2.4 percent, the largest increase since March, after a 1.9 percent drop in October. However, overall orders dropped by a larger than expected 1.3 percent last month, dragged down by a plunge in bookings for civilian aircraft and motor vehicles.

Economists had expected orders excluding transportation to rebound 1.6 percent last month and overall bookings to fall 0.5 percent.

Durable goods orders are a leading indicator of manufacturing and latest report should help to allay fears factory activity was slowing down.

The report also showed non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, rebounded 2.6 percent in November after dropping 3.6 percent the prior month. Economists had expected a 2.5 percent increase.

Outside transportation, orders for computers and electronic products increased by 5.8 percent, the largest gain since February 2009. There were also strong gains in bookings for primary metals, communications equipment and electrical equipment, appliances and components. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)