WASHINGTON — Factory orders surged past economist expectations in November, rising 0.7% due to higher energy prices, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Orders excluding transportation rose 2.4% to post their largest increase since March and their fourth monthly expansion. Orders for transportation equipment fell 11.1% and auto orders dropped 1.8%. Economists had expected an increase of 0.3% in factory orders.

November factory orders for durable goods edged lower by 0.3% to post their the second consecutive monthly decrease. Orders for nonmilitary capital goods dropped 6.8% — the largest decline since August 2009.

“Nondurable goods orders jumped by 1.7%, with nearly two-thirds of the gain coming from a surge in petroleum and petroleum products,” Steve Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said in a research note. October orders were revised higher to reflect a month-to-month drop of 0.7% instead of the 0.9% decline initially reported last month.

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