By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gauge of U.S. business investment plans fell slightly in August while the number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits barely rose last week, signs that global economic headwinds were doing little to impede U.S. growth.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday capital goods orders excluding military wares and aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.2 percent last month, a slightly bigger fall than analysts polled by Reuters had expected.
August's decline followed a gain in July that was the largest in over a year and which had boosted optimism that many American companies were unfazed by weak overseas markets.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 for the week ended Sept. 19. Analysts had expected new claims to rise more.
The trend in jobless claims continues to give bullish signs on the health of the U.S. labor market, which is critical for the Federal Reserve's plans to lift interest rates as soon as this year.
"These readings suggest no significant change in the continuing low level of layoff activity," said John Hoff, an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims fell by 750 to 271,750, which was close to its lowest level since 2000 and suggests the job market remains on the upswing.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)