WASHINGTON -- New orders for U.S. factory goods rebounded more than expected in February, with shipments posting their biggest gain in seven months in a further sign the economy was regaining momentum after a recent weather-driven slowdown.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday new orders for manufactured goods jumped 1.6 percent, the biggest rise since last September.
January's orders were revised to show a larger 1 percent drop instead of the previously reported 0.7 percent fall. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new orders received by factories rebounding 1.2 percent in February.
Shipments of new orders increased 0.9 percent in February, the largest rise since last July. Orders excluding the volatile transportation category advanced 0.7 percent in February, also the biggest gain since last July.
These orders had slipped 0.1 percent in January.
Factory activity is clawing back after unusually cold weather weighed on activity in December and January.
The Commerce Department report showed inventories rose 0.7 percent in February, the biggest rise since October 2011.
A report Tuesday showed a gauge of national factory activity rising in March for a second month.
In February, factory orders rose across most categories, with big gains in transportation, primary metals and computers and electronic products. Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components fell as did bookings for machinery.
The department also said orders for durable goods, manufactured products expected to last three years or more, increased 2.2 percent as reported last month.
Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which is seen as a measure of business confidence and spending plans, fell 1.4 percent rather than the previously reported 1.3 percent drop.