WASHINGTON — Orders for big-ticket items rose 2.2 percent in February, government data showed Wednesday, reflecting broad strength in demand across most U.S. industries.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected durable-goods orders to increase a seasonally adjusted 2.9 percent, snapping back from a sharp drop in January. It was the fourth increase in five months.

The level of orders in January and February is consistent with an economy growing at a moderate 2 percent pace, economists say.

Durable goods are typically bulky or heavy products designed to last at three years, such as trains, computers or furniture. The government’s durables report, however, is particularly volatile and subject to large swings from month to month.

As a result, economists look at longer-term trends – and the trend is up. Orders have climbed a healthy 13.5 percent in the past 12 months.

“The normal wild swings in big-ticket purchases continue, but the trend is still up, and that is all that matters,” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The rise in demand last month was led by transportation and defense, but almost every sector tracked by the Commerce Department reported an increase.

Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, said companies skimped on capital investment during the last recession and the slow recovery. Now they are moving to replace older equipment in the expectation that the economy will continue to improve, he said.

Excluding the volatile transportation sector, the government said orders rose 1.6 percent. Orders minus defense increased 1.7 percent.