New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods posted solid growth in March as demand rose across most categories, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Thursday. Orders for durable goods increased 6 billion U.S. dollars, or 2.6 percent, to 234.8 billion dollars in March. It followed a 2.1 percent gain in February, marking the second consecutive monthly increase. The increase was led by a 4 percent jump on orders for transportation equipment. Demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile month-to-month category, surged 8.6 percent after rising 12.5 percent in the previous month. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a gauge for business spending plans, also increased 2.2 percent in March after a 1.1 percent drop in February. The durable items are expected to last at least three years. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, new orders for manufactured durable goods increased 2 percent in March. Orders for computers, electrical products, communications equipment and metal products all advanced last month.