WASHINGTON — Durable goods orders in April surged 2.9%, more than double economists’ estimates, but the gain was driven mostly by transportation equipment orders, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

Excluding transportation, durable goods orders fell 1.0%, the first decline in three months and the largest drop in 13 months. New orders for transportation equipment jumped 16.1% for the month.

New nonmilitary aircraft orders, a very volatile category, more than tripled for the month, leading to the strong transportation orders gain.

Motor vehicle and parts orders increased 1.6% in April after gaining 4.5% in March.

Economists expected durable goods would rise 1.1% in April and for goods excluding transportation spending to increase 0.5%, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Durable goods orders for March were revised higher to no change from a 1.3% decline reported last month.

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