WASHINGTON --  New orders for manufactured durable goods rose $7.2 billion or 3.3% to $222.6 billion in April, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The increase followed a revised 5.9% decline  the previous month, originally reported as a 5.7% decrease.

The April advance indicated an increase in transportation equipment orders, which climbed $5.1 billion or 8.1% to $67.6 billion. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 1.3%. Excluding defense, they climbed 2.1% . Excluding aircraft, new orders rose 1.2%.

The April increase exceeded the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who had projected that durable goods orders would rise 1.6%. They had expected a 0.5% gain for new orders excluding transportation.

Durable goods shipments decreased $1.3 billion or 0.6% to $227.1 billion in April. The dip followed a revised 0.9% climb in March. 

Unfilled orders for durable goods increased $2.7 billion or 0.3% to $996.2 billion. That followed a revised 0.5% decrease the previous month.

Inventories, which have risen in 3 of the past 4 months, were up $1.3 billion or 0.4% to $377.9 billion in April. The gain followed a 0.1% decline in March and brought the inventory level to its highest since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992.

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