Durable goods orders rose 3.7 percent or by $8.2 billion to $233.4 billion, well ahead of expectations, which called for a 2 percent rise.
New orders have risen for five of the past six months but without transportation orders they were off 0.1 percent.
Excluding defense orders, the sector still grew with new orders up 3.2 percent.
The U.S. Census Bureau said orders for big-ticket transportation items -- ships, trucks, planes and railroad cars -- rose 12.3 percent, or by $8.4 billion, to $77 billion. Most of the increase -- $6.9 billion -- came in orders for commercial aircraft.
Shipments of durable goods -- goods expected to last three years or more -- rose for the second consecutive month, climbing 0.2 percent or by $500 million to $231.8 billion, reaching the highest level since 1992.
Factories reported an increase in unfilled orders, which rose for the seventh month out of the past eight, climbing by $8.6 billion to $1.041 trillion, which is also a modern peak for the category.
Inventories rose 0.9 percent, or by $3.3 billion to $382.7 billion, a post-1992 record.
Non-defense orders for capital goods -- orders for business equipment -- rose, as well, increasing 6.9 percent to $80.7 billion.
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