WASHINGTON - Orders to U.S. companies for long-lasting manufactured goods advanced in January at the strongest pace in 10 months. Moreover, a key category that tracks business investment surged by the largest amount in 19 months.
The bigger-than-expected gains could be a sign of better days ahead for the nation's beleaguered manufacturers.
The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods, items ranging from autos and appliances to steel and machinery, rose 4.9 percent last month. That represented a rebound from a 4.6 percent plunge in December.
Demand in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans rose 3.9 percent in January, reversing a 3.7 percent fall in December. It was the biggest advance in this category since June 2014.