A gauge of business confidence improved in December, a sign that business worries over tighter fiscal policy may not have held back investment plans as much as feared at the end of 2012, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Commerce Department said on today that non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for investment plans, edged 0.2 percent higher.

Many economists believe businesses held back on capital spending late last year because of uncertainty over government spending cuts and tax increases that had been scheduled to kick in this month. Congress ultimately struck a last-minute deal in early January to avoid or postpone most of the austerity measures.

The Commerce Department report showed that companies appeared to still be planning to expand their businesses. Read more.