A gauge of U.S. business investment plans fell slightly in August while the number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits barely rose last week, signs that global economic headwinds were doing little to impede U.S. growth.
Other economic data released on Thursday showed new home sales rose in August to the highest level since early 2008, further evidence the domestic economy was on the upswing.
The Commerce Department said capital goods orders excluding military wares and aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.2 percent last month, a slightly bigger fall than analysts polled by Reuters had expected.
However, August's decline followed a gain in July that was the largest in over a year and which had boosted optimism that many American companies were unfazed by weak overseas markets.
The recent trend in orders gives a good signal for economic growth in the third quarter after business investment on equipment fell in the April-June period.
"Investment in equipment appears to be recovering," said Paul Ashworth, an economist for Capital Economics.
Durable goods overall fell 2.0 percent in August, in line with forecasts and held back by a sharp decline in orders for civilian aircraft. Excluding transportation, orders were flat.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 for the week ended Sept. 19. Analysts had expected new claims to rise more.
The trend in jobless claims continues to give bullish signs on the health of the U.S. labor market, which is critical for the Federal Reserve's plans to lift interest rates as soon as this year.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week the Fed declined to raise rates in September in part because of concerns that weakness in China's economy could slow global growth, including in the United States. There is little sign of an appreciable slowdown yet.
"These readings suggest no significant change in the continuing low level of layoff activity," said John Hoff, an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims fell by 750 to 271,750, which was close to its lowest level since 2000 and suggests the job market continues to strengthen.
Robust job growth over the last year has helped the country's housing market, which took a big hit in the 2007-09 recession.
New home sales in August surged 5.7 percent to an annual pace of 552,000. The gain was much larger than analysts had expected and came on the back of a strong revision in the pace of sales during July.
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