12/22/2016 03:39 EST | Updated 12/23/2017 00:12 EST

US business investment rose in November for 2nd month

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses stepped up their spending on industrial machinery, steel, and other big-ticket items last month, a sign that one of the economy's weak spots may be improving.

The Commerce Department says a measure that tracks business investment rose 0.9 per cent in November, after a slight 0.2 per cent rise the previous month. Yet those gains follow a 1.5 per cent drop in September.

Orders for all big-ticket factory goods fell 4.6 per cent, mostly because of a sharp fall in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile category. Excluding transportation-related goods, orders rose 0.5 per cent.

The data suggests businesses may be loosening their purse strings after more than a year of cutbacks that have weighed on the economy. Business investment spending is down 3.9 per cent this year compared with 2015.