WASHINGTON - New orders for U.S. durable goods recovered in April after March's slump, led by transportation equipment orders, government data released Friday showed.

After a sharp 5.9% drop in March, new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose 3.3% to $222.6 billion, the Commerce Department reported.

The rebound was twice as strong as analysts expected and pointed to continued growth in the manufacturing sector.

“The durable goods report confirms a pace of industrial recovery that has been steady if at times uninspiring,” said Kris Bledowski, senior economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). “Companies are gearing up to add to capacity. However, as domestic demand is picking up pace, sales abroad continue to underperform, pulled down by continued malaise in Europe. Industrial recovery this year will benefit from pent-up demand at home and more uncertain and volatile exports.”

Transportation equipment led the advance, increasing 8.1% to $67.6 billion, the department said. Commercial aircraft and parts orders drove the gain with a $1.9 billion rise.

Excluding transportation orders, which can be volatile month-over-month, new durable goods orders were up 1.3%.

Excluding defense, orders were up 2.1%.

“The rise in April’s durable orders caps a string of robust economic data spanning the first four months of the year. Aside from gains in manufacturing, we’ve seen a buoyant pace of construction activity and consistent headway in hiring,” Bledowski said.

Computer and electronic products orders rose 3.6%, while orders for computers dropped 3.7%.

Orders were marginally higher on a 12-month basis, up 0.7% from April 2012.

Copyright Agence France-Presse 2013, IW Staff