First-quarter growth is expected to have slowed from the fourth-quarter's annualized 2.4 percent rate. Growth has also been held back as businesses work through a pile of unsold goods that was accumulated in the second half of 2013.
This means they have little appetite to place large orders with manufacturers, holding back factory production.
The durable goods report showed overall shipments increased 0.9 percent in February, snapping two straight months of declines. Unfilled orders also increased after being flat in January.
But there was a slight wrinkle in the otherwise upbeat report. Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, unexpectedly fell 1.3 percent in February after rising by a revised 0.8 percent the prior month.
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Economists had expected orders for these so-called core capital goods to increase 0.7 percent in February after a previously reported 1.5 percent advance in January.
Shipments of these goods, however, rose 0.5 percent last month. Shipments of core capital goods are used to calculate equipment spending in the government's gross domestic product measurement. They had declined 1.4 percent in January.