* Durable goods orders rise 2.2 percent in February
* Core capital goods orders fall, but shipments up
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rebounded in February and shipments snapped two straight months of declines, providing fresh signs the economy was shaking off some of its winter gloom.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday durable goods orders rose 2.2 percent as demand increased almost across the board, ending two consecutive months of declines.
Orders of these goods, which range from toasters to aircraft and are meant to last three years or longer, had dropped 1.3 percent in January. Economists had expected orders to rebound 1.0 percent last month.
The report joined other data such as industrial production, retail sales and employment in suggesting a pick-up in economic growth after an unusually harsh winter chilled activity at the end of 2013 and the beginning of this year.
"We are still encouraged by the outlook on the factory sector once we get past this period," said Sam Bullard, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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.
U.S. stock index futures rose on the data, while the dollar hit a session high versus the yen.
The durable goods report showed overall shipments increased 0.9 percent in February, after two straight months of declines. Unfilled orders also increased after being flat in January.
But there was a slight wrinkle in the otherwise fairly 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.
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.
"While non-defense capital orders ex-aircraft fell, I don't think we are seeing underlying weakness in the economy," said Gus Faucher, senior economist with PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh.
"We should still see some solid business investments in 2014. We have some weather impact on new orders in February. Orders should gradually improve this year," Faucher said.
Shipments of the core capital goods, however, rose 0.5 percent last month. Shipments of these goods are used to calculate equipment spending in the government's GDP measurement. They had declined 1.4 percent in January.
Last month, orders for transportation equipment increased 6.9 percent as bookings for automobiles recorded their largest gain in a year. Transportation orders had declined 6.2 percent in January.
There were also increases in orders for primary metals, fabricated metal products and computers and electronic products. Orders for machinery fell for a second straight month as did bookings for electrical equipment, appliances and components.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Additional reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Paul Simao)