WASHINGTON – Led by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in February, reversing a drop in January, to rise at the fastest pace since June.
The Commerce Department said Friday that orders for durable goods, items meant to last at least three years, rose 3.1 percent last month, beating economists' expectations handily. They had fallen 3.5 percent in January.
Orders have risen three of the past four months — a sign that American industry is humming thanks to a pickup in global economic growth.
February orders were lifted by a 25.5 percent jump in orders for aircraft and aviation parts, a category that swings wildly from month to month. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 1.2 percent — the seventh gain in the last eight months.
A category that tracks business investment — orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — rose 1.8 percent after dipping in January.
American industry has benefited from stronger global growth and a drop in the dollar that makes U.S. products less expensive overseas. Manufacturers have added 224,000 jobs over the past year, the best 12-month gain since May 1998.