U.S. core capital goods orders unexpectedly fall in November

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WASHINGTON – New orders for U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in November while shipments rose modestly, suggesting that shortages were hampering business spending on equipment.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dipped 0.1% last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. These so-called core capital goods orders shot up 0.9% in October.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders rising 0.6%.

Shipments of core capital goods gained 0.3% last month after increasing 0.4% in October. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the GDP measurement.

Business spending on equipment contracted in the third quarter after four straight quarters of double-digit growth. It was weighed down by a shortage of motor vehicles. A global shortage of semiconductors is hampering motor vehicle production.

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Orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, accelerated 2.5% last month after edging up 0.1% in October. They were boosted by a 6.5% jump in orders for transportation equipment, which followed a 0.3% drop in October. Motor vehicle orders increased 1.0% after rebounding 5.8% in October.

Orders for the volatile civilian aircraft category soared 34.1% after falling 4.1% in October. Boeing reported on its website that it had received 109 aircraft orders last month compared to only 10 in October.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)