msnbc.com news services
updated 5/25/2005 9:19:07 AM ET 2005-05-25T13:19:07

New orders for long-lasting U.S.-made goods jumped by a larger-than-expected 1.9 percent in April on a big rebound in transportation orders, a government report showed on Wednesday.

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Excluding the volatile transportation category, orders for durable goods — big-ticket items meant to last three years or more — dipped unexpectedly by 0.2 percent.

The monthly increase, which followed four straight monthly declines, was stronger than most economists were expecting. Coupled with other recent data on the economy, the report indicates that the economy has moved beyond its recent spate of weakness, which many thought was inspired by higher energy prices.

The Commerce Department had said durable orders excluding transportation have declined in two of the last three months, and those orders were at their lowest dollar amount since December.

Revisions moved the previous month’s readings up, however. Durable goods orders in March were revised to show a 1.6 percent drop, up from a previously reported 2.3 percent decline. Excluding transportation, orders were up 0.2 percent in March from a prior reading of a 0.5 percent fall.

The durable goods orders report offered a mixed picture for factory and business spending plans. Wall Street economists had expected durable goods orders to climb 1 percent overall and 1 percent excluding transportation.

Transportation equipment orders rose 8.2 percent as orders for civilian aircraft and parts rose 28.2 percent and military aircraft orders surged 26.3 percent. Both reversed large drops in March.

Computer orders jumped 15.8 percent after a 5.3 percent slide in March.

The report suggested an upturn in business spending plans as orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, rose 1.6 percent, reversing a 1.6 percent drop the preceding month.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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