New orders for durable goods increased 2.2% to $229.4 billion for February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
After January's 1% slump was revised down to -1.3%, February's jump came in much higher than expected. Overall, analysts had predicted a smaller 1% bump. Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years.
Excluding volatile transportation orders (which include aircraft), however, February's numbers don't look quite as good. Growth slowed from 0.9% in January to 0.2% in February, just missing analyst expectations of a 0.3% improvement.
Diving deeper, transportation's 6.9% jump came primarily from a boost in aircraft orders. While new nondefense aircraft orders increased 13.6% to $15 billion following a 22.1% drop the previous month, new orders for defense aircraft soared 21.1% to $4.6 billion for February, on top of a 17.2% increase from December 2013 to January 2014..
Durable goods shipments also increased, up 0.9% for the first time in three months. Inventories expanded 0.8% to $392.3 billion, the highest level recorded since data were first collected in 1992.