WASHINGTON - New orders for manufactured durable goods rose $3.4 billion or 1.6% to $221.6 billion in June, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The rise in orders followed a 1.6% increase in May, originally reported as a 1.1% advance.

Excluding transportation, new orders fell 1.1%, and excluding defense, they decreased 0.7%. Excluding aircraft, new orders dropped 1.4%.

The overall increase in durable goods orders surpassed the estimate of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who had projected a median 0.4% increase. The stronger than expected figure was driven by an 8.0% increase in transportation equipment orders, that category's strongest month since November 2011, the department reported. Economists had expected no change excluding transportation.

Durable goods shipments rose $200 million or 0.1% to $225.4 billion in June, following an upwardly revised 1.2% climb in May. The May figure was originally reported as a 0.7% advance. Shipments have risen in six of the past seven months.

Unfilled orders for durable goods rose 0.4% to $988.6 billion, following a slight increase in May. Unfilled orders have increased in 29 of the last 30 months.

Inventories, also up 29 of the last 30 months, increased $1.2 billion or 0.3% to $366.7 billion, the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. The gain followed a 0.4% advance the previous month.

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