ByJohn S. McClenahen If 19th Century English novelist Charles Dickens had been forecasting February factory orders, he might have titled his outlook "Great Expectations." Economists were anticipating as much as a 2% gain from January's level. But the U.S. Commerce Department reported on March 31 that total new orders for manufactured durables and nondurables increased just 0.3% in February, a result better titled "Bleak House." New orders for manufactured durable goods, products that are designed to last three years or more, increased 2.5% to $183.9 billion in February, slightly less than the preliminary estimate. Paced by aircraft and parts, transportation equipment posted the largest sectoral gain among durables in February, increasing 9.6% to $54.3 billion. Indeed, without the transportation sector, new orders for all manufactured goods would have declined 1.2% in February. New orders for nondurables fell 2% to $159.1 billion in February, following five consecutive monthly increases.