The 8.7% increase in orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, was the largest since a 9.2% spurt in October. Analysts had predicted a rise of only 1.4% to 2.7%.
New orders rose in every category except electrical equipment and appliances, which saw a decrease. Orders for cars, trucks and parts increased 7.5%, following a 3% decline last month.
Excluding transportation equipment, which soared 20.8%, durable-goods orders rose a solid 3.9% in July.
Analysts said today's report may be a sign that businesses are ready to make capital investments, which would be needed for the economy to recover.