Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly fell in December along with a gauge of planned business spending, giving a a reality check to a largely improving U.S. economic outlook. The economy, however, is growing enough for consumer confidence to hit a five-month high in January. Plus, house prices posted their biggest year-on-year gain in almost eight years in November, other reports showed on Tuesday. Durable goods orders dropped 4.3 percent in December, weighed down by weak demand for transportation equipment, primary metals, fabricated metal products, computers and electronic products and capital goods. Last month’s decline was the largest since July and reversed November’s revised 2.6 percent rise. Economists polled by Reuters had expected orders for durable goods — items from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more — to rise 1.8 percent in December after November’s previously reported 3.4 percent rise.
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