WASHINGTON - Businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months.

The surge in orders for durable goods, which are products expected to last at least three years, was the latest evidence of a rebound in manufacturing. The gains will likely provide support for the economy into 2014.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that orders for durable goods jumped 3.5 percent last month compared with October, when they had fallen 0.7 percent.

The increase was led by a 21.8 percent surge in demand for commercial aircraft, which can be volatile.

Core capital goods, a category that tracks business investment, rose 4.5 percent, the biggest gain since January. This category is seen as a gauge of business plans to expand and modernize and as a measure of business confidence.

Economists said the stronger-than-expected November gain and a revision for October, which had previously been reported as a sharper 1.6 percent drop, were encouraging signs.

"Nearly all of the major industries saw more orders coming in during November," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

She noted that machinery, fabricated metals, computers and electronics and communications equipment all showed solid gains.

Last month's rise in core capital goods, a category that excludes defense and aircraft, followed declines of 0.7 percent in October and 1.2 percent in September.

It was the strongest gain since an 8.9 percent increase in January.

Demand for transportation products rose 8.4 percent, led by a surge in commercial aircraft orders. Orders for motor vehicles and parts increased 3.3 percent.

Automakers have been enjoying a banner sales year.

Orders for communications equipment shot up 13 percent. Demand rose 5.3 percent for computers and 3.8 percent for machinery.