U.S. factory orders rose by a sizzling 2.6 percent in January to $509.4 billion, data released by the Commerce Department Thursday showed.
December’s strong gain was revised up to 1.6 percent, representing $496.3 billion.
The release beat expectations. Economists polled by Econoday had forecast a 2 percent gain.
Orders for durable goods, stuff built to made to last at least three years, jumped 3.4 percent to $256.7 billion. This was led by transportation equipment, which rose 7.7 percent to $85.1 billion.
Orders for nondurable goods rose a slower 1.9 percent.
Orders for construction machinery were up 6.2 percent, reflecting the surge in homebuilding.
Orders for nondefense, non-aircraft capital goods—a proxy for business investment—rose 0.4 percent to $252.7 billion. Nondefense aircraft orders, a volatile category, were up 389.9 percent to over $5 billion.
This is the latest evidence that the U.S. economy is growing much faster than expected. President Biden had warned Americans that they faced a “dark winter’ ahead and has proposed a $1.9 trillion spending program to stimulate the economy. The outperformance of the economy on many metrics has led to questions about whether the economy needs that much stimulus and raised the risk that the economy could overheat.