Durable goods orders in the US unexpectedly rose 0.8 per cent in April, after rising 2.5 per cent in March. The consensus was for a 0.5 per cent fall.
Rising sales of defence aircraft and other transport equipment helped drive the unexpected boost in orders. Defence capital goods orders jumped 39 per cent in the month.
Increasing growth in the world's largest economy also saw gains in orders for electrical equipment and computer networks. However, there was a 4.1 per cent drop in bookings for commercial aircraft.
Plane manufacturer Boeing received 70 orders for planes last month, compared to 163 in March. Furthermore, if the defence sector is stripped out of the numbers, new orders in fact suffered a 0.8 per cent decline. But there may yet be grounds for optimism.
"Overall, with the survey evicence strengthening markedly over the past few months, we would expect to see capital goods orders and shipments continuing to trend upwards. Second quarter growth in equipment investment should be be notably better, even after the upward revision to first quarter growth", said Amna Asaf, economist at London-based consultancy Capital Economics.