Durable goods orders rose 1.5% to $179.4 billion in February after a downwardly revised 1.3% climb in January, the Commerce Department said today. The increase surpassed the expectations of analysts polled byReuters, who were anticipating a rise of only 1%.
The climb was fueled in large part by a 41% increase in orders in airplanes and aircraft parts and a 78.6% surge in defense capital goods, two typically volatile categories. Excluding transportation, February orders were down 1.3%, and excluding defense, orders fell by 0.2%.
A Federal Reserve report showed that industrial production posted solid gains in January and February. The Institute for Supply Management also reported that manufacturing activity flashed a growth signal in February.
Excluding transportation orders, which can bounce around a lot from month to month, durable-goods orders dipped 1.3% in February, suggesting that the manufacturing recovery is underway but fragile. It marked the first such decrease in the last five months.