A key measure of business investment saw an unexpectedly sharp rise in January, adding to the evidence that the economy began the year at a much more robust pace than forecast.
Orders for core capital goods rose 0.8 percent in January and shipments jumped 1.1 percent. Economists had expected orders would fall slightly after declining in the previous two months.
Core capital goods are non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft. Orders are thought to be a proxy for business investment.
Total orders for durable goods fell 4.5 percent in January, largely due to lower orders of airplanes. New orders for aircraft plunged 54.6 percent after rising 105.6 percent in December. Because aircraft are priced so high, the category tends to be extremely volatile.
Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 0.2 percent and shipments were flat. Orders for defense aircraft and parts were up 5.5…