New orders for U.S.-made capital goods increased by the most in eight months in March, but a drop in shipments suggested business spending on equipment slowed down in the first quarter.
Other data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits recorded its biggest increase in 19 months last week. The trend in jobless claims, however, remains consistent with a strong labor market.
The Commerce Department said orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, surged 1.3 percent, powered by a jump in demand for computers and electronic products.
That was the largest increase in these so-called core capital goods since last July and followed a 0.1 percent gain February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders nudging up 0.1 percent in March. Core capital goods orders increased 2.8 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Shipments of core capital goods slipped 0.2 percent in March after gaining 0.2 percent in the prior month. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.
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