WASHINGTON -  New orders for manufactured durable goods rose $2.3 billion or 1.1% to $217.2 billion in May, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The rise in orders followed a 0.2% decrease in April, originally reported as a 0.2% advance.

Excluding transportation, new orders rose 0.4%, and excluding defense, they advanced 0.7%. Excluding aircraft, new orders climbed 1.6%.

The increase in durable goods orders far surpassed the estimate of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who had projected a median 0.4% increase. Durable goods orders excluding transportation, however, underperformed compared to the economists' 0.8% predicted increase.

Durable goods shipments rose $1.5 billion or 0.7% to $224.1 billion in May, following an unrevised 0.7% climb in April. Shipments have risen in five of the past six months.

Unfilled orders for durable goods dipped slightly to $984.5 billion, following a 0.1% drop in April.

Inventories, up 28 of the last 29 months, increased $1.8 billion or 0.5% to $365.8 billion, the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. The gain followed a 0.3% advance the previous month.

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