Orders have increased in seven of the past eight months, rising to $230.7 billion in the final month of the year.
Transportation orders provided most of the increase, going up 11.9 percent or $8.1 billion out of a total increase of $10 billion.
Shipments of durable goods rose 1.3 percent to $230.6 billion in December after going up 1.8 percent in November.
Inventories, however, slipped by $100 million to $374.5 billion after rising for 14 consecutive months.
Non-defense capital goods orders, a leading economic index, rose by 3.8 percent or $2.7 billion to $73.8 billion.
Capital goods orders represent manufacturing firms investing in production equipment, a sign that manufacturers believe production warrants further investment.