New orders for durable goods jumped 2.6% to $235 billion for March, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
After increasing a revised 2.1% for February, March's growth signals unexpectedly sustained strength. Overall, analysts had predicted a slighter 2% bump. Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years. Manufacturing managed a seasonally adjusted 3.4% month-over-month boost in new orders, while computers and electronic products pushed ahead 5.7%.
There was a 4% increase in demand for transportation goods. Orders for commercial aircraft advanced 8.6% while demand for motor vehicles and parts rose just 0.4%.
Excluding volatile transportation orders (which include aircraft), March's numbers still look stellar. Although new orders growth excluding transportation clocked in at a smaller 2%, analysts had expected just 0.9% growth.
As overall new orders expanded, so did shipments, up 1.1% to $237 billion. Unfilled orders added on 0.6% to hit $1.068 trillion, the highest level since data were first recorded in 1992. Inventories also hit a new high, up 0.5% to $394 billion.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.