WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. durable goods orders rose in February, the fifth increase in the past six months, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday.
Factory orders rose 5.7 percent, $12.4 billion, to $232.1 billion after an upwardly revised decline of 3.8 percent in January.
A month prior, the January decline was reported at 5.2 percent.
Excluding transportation equipment, factory orders for goods expected to last at least three years fell 0.5 percent. Excluding defense orders, new business for factories increased 4.5 percent, the Commerce Department said.
Transportation orders, which have been swinging up and down for the past six months, returned to making gains in February. For the month transportation orders "drove the increase" with a gain of $13.3 billion, or 21.7 percent, in new orders, which totaled $74.4 billion in the month.
Orders for non-defense-related capital goods rose 10 percent to $80.8 billion, the largest increase in five months.
"Capital goods" is a category of investment into production equipment, such as printing presses, backhoes and computers -- equipment that represents businesses investing in themselves. It is seen as a gauge of confidence among producers.
Shipments of durable goods, up five of the past six months, also rose in February, rising by 1 percent or $2.2 billion to $229.3 billion, the Commerce Department said.