New orders for durable goods rose $3.9 billion, or 1.7%, in February because of a surge in commercial aircraft orders.
Orders totaled $235.4 billion, the US Commerce Department said in a monthly report. That’s was up from an adjusted $231.5 billion in January. Durable goods orders have increased for two consecutive months.
Excluding transportation equipment, durable goods increased 0.4%, according to the report. Excluding defense, orders rose 2.1%
Overall transportation equipment orders advanced 4.3% to $80.4 billion. Within the category, commercial aircraft and parts orders surged 48% to $12.7 billion.
Other segments in transportation equipment didn’t fare nearly as well. Defense aircraft and parts slid 13% to $3.8 billion. Motorized vehicles and parts fell 0.8% to $56.3 billion.
Both commercial aircraft and the auto industry have been the strongest performers within manufacturing the past two years. However, some analysts are forecasting US deliveries of cars and light trucks to decline slightly this year from a record 17.55 million in 2016. The main problem is sales of cars, which are slipping while consumers continue to buy trucks.
Boeing Co., on the other hand, has forecast its deliveries of commercial aircraft will rise to a range of 760 to 765 in 2017 from 748 last year.
In other categories, new orders for primary metals advanced 2.3% to $18.9 billion and machinery rose 0.1% to $31.5 billion. New orders for fabricated metal products declined 0.4% to $31.3 billion.