A rebound in sales of defense and civilian aircraft boosted February sales of US-manufactured goods to their biggest gain in eight months, the Commerce Department reported on March 23. Orders for civilian aircraft rose 25.5%, reversing January's decline in the volatile sector, while military aircraft sales added 37.7%, recouping much of the 48.9% drop in the prior month.
The data was a welcome sign for economic growth in the first quarter, with the gain more than double analyst expectations. The sluggish auto sector also saw a healthy bump.
With broad-based gains across multiple industrial sectors, total orders for durable goods rose 3.1% to $247.7 billion, rising the most since June.
The result handily overshot a consensus forecast among economists, who were expecting an increase of only 1.5%.
The bounce also offset most of January's 3.5 % decline and put the first two months of 2018 a solid 9.1% above the same period last year.
But excluding the highly volatile transportation sector, which sees broad swings from month to month, the report still showed 1.2 % increase.
Sales of cars and trucks, long in the doldrums, rose by 1.6% after being essentially flat in the prior two months.
Orders for electrical equipment and appliances had their best month since July 2016, adding 2.6%, while non-defense capital goods, a segment that can track investment by the oil drilling industry, added 1.8 %.
The lone sour note was communications equipment, which fell 8.4%, the biggest monthly decline since December 2015.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2018