Durable goods orders rose last month, boosted by commercial and defense aircraft, the U.S. Commerce said today.
Orders gained 1.3 percent from the previous month to $240.8 billion, according to a monthly report. It was the sixth monthly increase. Manufacturing has been recovering since plant shutdowns earlier this year intended to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Excluding transportation equipment, orders also rose 1.3 percent, the department said. Excluding defense, orders only increased by 0.2 percent.
The overall transportation equipment category saw a monthly rise of 1.2 percent to $77.1 billion.
Within transportation, orders for commercial aircraft and parts increased 39 percent to $2.6 billion. For much of the year, that category has been in negative territory as airlines canceled orders for planes as COVID-19 reduced demand for air travel.
The commercial aircraft sector still faces uncertain prospects in the coming months. Promising COVID-19 vaccines are in development. But forecasts vary as to how quickly demand for air travel will recover.
Orders for defense aircraft and parts posted a 79 percent monthly gain to $2.96 billion.
The motor vehicles and parts category, a relative bright spot in recent months, saw a 3.2 percent decrease to $60.1 billion. The North American auto industry has mostly recovered from COVID-19, helped by demand for large pickups and SUVs.
Among other categories, orders for fabricated metal products gained 2.3 percent to $31.8 billion. Orders for primary metals rose 0.4 percent to $19.4 billion. Orders for machinery fell 0.6 percent to $31.6 billion.
The Commerce Department report is based on a survey of about 3,100 companies.