A surge in civilian aircraft purchases sparked a surprise jump in sales of big-ticket manufactured US goods in August, according to government data released Monday.
Durable goods orders rose 1.8% compared to July, to $263.5 billion, taking flight on a nearly 78% increase in non-defense aircraft orders, the Commerce Department reported, a jump largely due to Boeing.
But excluding transportation equipment, total orders edged up just 0.2%, slowing from recent months but still reflecting rising investment.
Total orders have increased in 15 of the past 16 months, and the originally reported dip in July was revised up to show a 0.5 percent increase, according to the report.
In other sectors, orders of motor vehicles and parts fell 3.1% while computers and electronics rose 1.4%.
The consensus among economists centered around a 0.8 percent rise in total durable goods orders, but Ian Shepherdson of Macroeconomics had predicted an "upside risk" due to the aircraft component given the seasonal adjustment factors applied to the raw data by government statisticians.
"Data from Boeing suggest that unadjusted orders rose modestly, but a favorable swing in the seasonals ought to generate a rather bigger seasonally adjusted increase," he said in a preview of the report.
While he said the post-pandemic surge in investment looks unsustainable, "the case for expecting continued increases, at a less frenetic pace, is strong" as firms have the resources and are restrained from expanding by adding personnel due to the shortage of workers.