updated 10/26/2011 8:45:14 AM ET 2011-10-26T12:45:14

Demand for a range of long- lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose more than expected in September to post the largest increase in six months, cementing views of a step-up in economic growth in the third quarter, even though new orders for transportation equipment fell.

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The Commerce Department said on Wednesday durable goods orders excluding transportation rose 1.7 percent after falling 0.4 percent in August. The rise beat economists' expectations for a 0.4 percent increase.

But a drop in demand for transportation equipment as bookings for motor vehicles and civilian aircraft declined pulled down overall orders 0.8 percent. That followed a 0.1 percent dip in August and was in line with economists' expectations for a 0.9 percent fall.

Transportation orders fell 7.5 percent, the largest decline since April.

The tenor of the report was further strengthened by a 2.4 percent jump in non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending. That was the largest increase since March.

That category increased 0.5 percent in August, and last month's increase was well above economists' expectations for a 0.5 percent rise.

The report was further evidence that economic activity picked up in the third quarter after a weak first half. Though manufacturing has slowed in recent months, the September durable goods report pointed to underlying resilience.

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