Durable goods orders fell 0.4% in December

Employees handle a resin tile as a composite engine case mold is prepared for bulk infusion molding at the GE Aviation manufacturing facility in Batesville, Mississippi.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees handle a resin tile as a composite engine case mold is prepared for bulk infusion molding at the GE Aviation manufacturing facility in Batesville, Mississippi.

U.S. businesses ramped up their investment in industrial machinery, semiconductors and other big-ticket items last month, boosting demand for factory goods.

The Commerce Department says a measure that tracks business spending plans climbed 0.8 percent in December, after jumping 1.5 percent the previous month.

Orders for all durable goods slipped 0.4 percent, mostly because of a sharp fall in demand for defense aircraft, a volatile category. Excluding transportation-related goods, orders rose 0.5 percent, the sixth straight increase.

The report adds to recent evidence that manufacturers are climbing out of a roughly two-year rut. A strong U.S. dollar and falling oil and gas prices had sliced demand for factory products, as drillers ordered less steel pipe and other equipment. Yet demand has risen since oil prices have stabilized.