Durable goods orders up 3 percent in December

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WASHINGTON (AP) ? Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods increased in December after business stepped up spending on machinery and other capital goods.

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose 3 percent last month. The second straight monthly gain offered more evidence that the economy has begun the new year with some momentum.

Perhaps the best evidence of that was a 2.9 percent increase in so-called core capital goods, such as computers and machinery. That pushed total orders for this category to a record $68.9 billion.

Economists pay most attention to so-called core capital goods because they are often viewed as a good way of gauging business investment plans.