Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods and new homes sales both rose unexpectedly in February.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods — manufactured products expected to last at least three years — increased 3.4 percent last month, much better than the 2 percent fall economists expected.
The department also reported that new home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 337,000 from an upwardly revised January figure of 322,000.
Last month's strength in durable goods orders was led by a surge in orders for military aircraft and parts, which shot up 32.4 percent. Demand for machinery, computers and fabricated metal products also rose.
Orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector rose 3.9 percent last month, easily beating the 2-percent drop that economists expected.
In areas of strength, orders for heavy machinery surged 13.5 percent in February, demand for computers rose 10.1 percent and orders for fabricated metal products edged up 1.5 percent.