US businesses boosted their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in February for a second month running, but a closely-watched gauge that tracks investment spending slipped.

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose 1.7 percent last month following a 2.3 per cent advance in January. The rise last month was led by a sharp jump in demand for transportation equipment.

Excluding this more volatile component, orders rose by only 0.4 per cent, missing estimates of a 0.6 per cent increase.

Further confounding the optimism surrounding the outlook for the US economy, non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft — which is seen as a proxy for business investment in big-ticket items — dipped 0.1 per cent, badly missing expectations for a 0.5 per cent rise.

“…for all the optimism seen in the business confidence figures, there was little sign of that translating into an increase in capital spending in February,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.

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