Orders for manufactured durable goods rose in March for the third consecutive month, outpacing the 15th straight month of increases in inventories, the Commerce Department reported.
The 2.5 percent increase followed a revised 0.7 percent gain in February. Excluding transportation equipment, new orders increased 1.3 percent. Excluding defense orders, new orders rose 2.3 percent.
Manufacturing has been a bright spot in the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve’s April 13 Beige Book survey of regional economies said all 12 Fed districts reported “manufacturing activity increased since their previous reports.”
The Commerce Department said demand for commercial airplanes rose 0.9 percent in March, when Boeing said it received orders for 98 airplanes, up from 21 in February. Government and industry data often differ on a month-to-month basis.
Inventories of manufactured durable goods, designed to last more than three years, rose 1.3 percent in March after an identical gain in February.
The Commerce Department data indicated business investment rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate in this year’s first quarter, compared with a 7.8 percent increase in the last quarter of 2010.