Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON: U.S. companies ordered more long-lasting goods last month, showing businesses are willing to buy equipment and machinery even after an investment tax credit was halved.

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose 2.2 percent in February. That followed a steep drop in January, when the full tax credit expired. Greater demand for machinery, computers, autos and aircraft drove much of the increase.

Orders for so-called “core” capital goods, a good measure of business investment plans, rose 1.2 percent. It fell in January by the most in a year.

A durable good is expected to last at least three years. Orders can fluctuate sharply from month to month. They have risen by a healthy amount since the recession ended.