Economists had expected factory orders for September to remain unchanged. Instead, following a marginal increase in August, orders increased by $1.4 billion or 0.3 percent to $453.5 billion.
New orders also rose 1.3 percent when transportation items were taken out of the mix.
As that suggests, new orders under the category of transportation orders -- including big-ticket items such as trains, ships, trucks and planes -- had the largest decrease in the month with orders down 7.1 percent or by $3.8 billion to $49.9 billion.
New orders for non-durable goods -- goods not expected to last three years -- rose by 1 percent or $2.6 billion to $252.5 billion.
For durable goods, orders fell by 0.6 percent, or $1.2 billion to $201 billion.
Shipments of manufactured goods, up for consecutive months, rose by 0.3 percent or $1.3 billion to $452.7 billion. Inventories at factories, up 23 of the past 24 months, rose by 0.1 percent or $600 million to $601.3 billion.