Orders for "big ticket" factory goods rose 0.9 percent last month due to a huge increase in government military orders, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.
Excluding defense orders, which swelled 17.2 percent, orders for durable goods, the most expensive manufactured products, declined 0.1 percent.
But still, many analysts said the November report showed that demand for manufactured goods was increasing at a better clip than most of 1985, a year when domestic producers have been battered by strong foreign competition.
Overall orders for durable goods were worth $105.4 billion in November, after seasonal adjustment, compared with $104.4 billion in October. But new orders last month were 1.1 percent behind September's pace of $106.6 billion.
Revised figures showed new orders declined 2 percent in October, following a 0.9 percent decline in September. November's gain was the sharpest since August's 3.2 percent increase.
Durable goods orders are watched closely because they are a particularly good gauge of buying sentiment. The manufacturing economy has been held back this year by competition from imports, which are more attractive in price because of the strength of the dollar overseas.
So far this year, new orders are running 3.6 percent ahead of the equivalent 11 months of 1984.
Robert Ortner, the Commerce Department's chief economist, said that, while manufacturing orders were generally weak in the early part of the year, many segments are starting to post improvements.
"The trend doesn't look like things are booming, but the November report is generally encouraging. There were widespread gains that more than compensate for some recent weakness," he said.
Economist Roger Brinner of Data Resources Inc., a forecasting firm, predicted an upswing in the value of factory orders by the middle of 1986, "as the dollar comes down to make American goods competitive."
"I do think the weakness in orders is a continuation of a trend, the high dollar, and not a sign of a recession," he added.
Jack Albertine, president of the American Business Conference, an organization of high-growth companies, said the report was "much brighter than many had expected" as new orders for defense goods "awoke from their fall snooze."
"The strength in new orders for nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft, was exemplary and bodes well for the continuation of the recovery through 1986," Albertine said. "As the effects of the dropping dollar and falling interest rates are felt in the marketplace, I think we will see a sizable increase in new orders for domestically produced capital goods."
New orders for defense goods, which were worth $7.2 billion in November, declined in three of the four preceding months.
"New orders for this series are normally very volatile and have ranged this year from a low in February of $4.7 billion to a high in June of $11.2 billion," the department said.
November orders for primary metals fell 2.7 percent, new orders for transportation equipment slipped 6.7 percent and orders for machinery advanced 7.5 percent.
In October, orders for transportation equipment slipped 5.6 percent. "The November decline was caused by the nondefense aircraft and parts and defense shipbuilding industries; the October decline was in both defense and nondefense aircraft and parts and defense shipbuilding," the department said.