US orders for durable goods were stronger than expected in November, surging 3.5 percent on big rises in aircraft and automobile sales, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. New orders for durable goods totalled $241.6 billion, after a 0.7 percent drop in October, and were up 1.2 percent even when excluding the volatile market for new vehicles, the best progress in six months. The figures mirror a similar improvement in consumer spending reported a day earlier, in an encouraging sign for the US economy. Aircraft orders were up 21.8 percent, communications equipment 13 percent, computers 5.3 percent, machine tools 3.8 percent and cars 3.3 percent, the Department said. November's figure brings the annual growth in durable goods orders to an unadjusted figure of 5.3 percent.