Durable goods orders rose in February as orders for aircraft soared.
Orders rose 3.1% to $247.7 billion last month from a revised $240.3 billion in January, according to a Commerce Department report. It was the third increase in the last four months and came after a 3.5% decline in January.
The February increase was paced by the overall transportation equipment category, which rose 7.1% to $83.5 billion.
Within transportation, orders for commercial aircraft and parts surged 25.5% to $13.1 billion. Orders for defense aircraft and parts gained 37.7% to $3.6 billion.
Motorized vehicles and parts, also part of transportation, posted a 1.6% gain in orders to $57.5 billion.
The February figures continued a familiar pattern. When orders for commercial aircraft do well, that helps carry total durable goods orders into positive territory. During months when commercial aircraft orders plummet, it drags down the total durable goods figure into monthly declines. Meanwhile, orders for motorized vehicles and parts have been steady.
Excluding transportation, orders rose 1.2%, the Commerce Department said. Excluding defense, orders increased 2.5%.
Among other categories, orders for primary metals gained 2.7% to $21.5 billion; orders for machinery rose 1.6% to $33.7 billion; orders for fabricated metal products increased 0.8% to $34.5 billion.