Orders for aircraft and autos boosted demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods in July.
Wednesday's report from the Commerce Department says "durable goods" orders jumped 4 percent for the month, a big change from the previous month's decline.
The gains were partly due to automakers overcoming the shortage of parts from Japanese factories damaged by the recent natural disasters there.
Outside the volatile areas of autos and aircraft, overall business investment declined 1.5 percent.
Manufacturing has been helping the overall U.S. economy recover.
A separate study showed prices in a key housing sector gained nine-tenths of a percent in June, the third month of gains.
Some stock markets have been posting gains in volatile trading this week as investors anticipate that the head of the U.S. central bank may announce a new program to stimulate the world's largest economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a speech at a gathering of top economists Friday. A year ago, at a meeting of this same group, he outlined a $600 billion program to purchase financial assets intended to cut long-term interest rates and boost lending, borrowing, and growth. That program ended in June.