Two new economic reports gave evidence Thursday that the U.S. economy is likely to continue steady growth and the job market is improving.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders were up a better-than-expected 1.3 percent in December. 

Analysts say a hike in durable goods orders means factory activity will increase.  The data also show businesses increased investment in new equipment, indicating that companies expect sales to grow.

A separate Labor Department report said the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation rose slightly (by 11,000) last week.

But experts say the increase brought the total to a relatively low 283,000, a level consistent with an improving job market.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.