Durable Goods Orders Top Expectations in April

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in April and shipments rebounded, suggesting business spending on equipment was picking up after slowing down at the end of the first quarter.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department revealed that orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft -- a closely watched proxy for business spending plans -- jumped 1% last month. The increase in the so-called core capital goods orders reversed March's 0.9% drop.

Economists had forecast core capital goods orders rising 0.7% last month. Core capital goods orders increased 6.6% on a year-on-year basis.

Shipments of core capital goods rose 0.8% last month after falling 0.7% in March. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government's gross domestic product measurement.

Business spending is being supported by the Trump administration's $1.5-trillion income tax cut package, which came into effect in January. The government slashed the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. A strong economy and rising oil prices are also underpinning investment.

Business spending on equipment slowed in the first quarter after double-digit growth in the second half of 2017.