US core capital goods orders unexpectedly rise in March, while durable goods orders plunge 14.4%

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New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly rose in March, but the gains are not likely to be sustainable amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has abruptly shut down the economy and contributed to a collapse in crude oil prices.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, edged up 0.1% last month, the Commerce Department said. Data for February was up to show these so-called core capital goods orders falling 0.8% instead of dropping 0.9% as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders plunging 6.0% in March.

U.S. durable goods orders sank 14.4% in the month, compared with expectations for an 11.9% drop. Durable goods orders rose 1.2% a month earlier.

CNBC contributed to this report.