WASHINGTON – Orders for long-lasting goods unexpectedly fell in February, raising concern over the sustainability of the rebound in U.S. business investment.

Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years dropped 0.9 percent after a 3.6 percent gain the prior month that was larger than initially reported, the Commerce Department said Thursday in Washington. Other reports showed fewer Americans filed claims for jobless benefits last week, and consumer comfort dropped to the lowest level in seven months.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 84.54 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 12,170.56. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 12.12, or 0.9 percent, to 1,309.66. The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.12 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,736.42.

The data on orders stands in contrast to other reports this month that showed production picked up in February and factory purchasing managers were more optimistic. While rising exports to China and other emerging economies will benefit manufacturers like Texas Instruments Inc., the need for U.S. companies to replace outdated equipment may not be as pressing as earlier in the recovery.

“There is a risk that capital spending will be flat in the first half of the year,” said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Global Research in New York. At the same time, he said, “the consumer will pick up the slack, driven by the labor market and also by the tax deal” President Barack Obama reached with Republicans in December.

The median forecast of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 1.2 percent increase in orders after a previously reported 3.2 percent rise in January. Estimates ranged from a 1.6 percent decline to a 4.5 percent gain.

The number of workers filing claims for jobless benefits declined by 5,000 to 382,000 in the week ended March 19, Labor Department figures showed, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The total sum of those receiving government payments dropped to the lowest level in almost three years.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to minus 48.9 in the period to March 20 from minus 48.5 the prior week, another report Thursday showed. The measure of the current state of the economy slumped to a 15-month low.

The best gasoline prices in more than two years weighed on families already dealing with rising grocery bills. The report showed confidence among households with annual incomes exceeding $50,000 fell to the lowest level since March 2010, representing a risk to consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.

“Households continue to operate under duress,” said John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets in Boston. “Inflation may prove both higher and more persistent than desirable.”

Orders for durable goods excluding transportation equipment decreased 0.6 percent after a 3 percent January decline. They were forecast to rise 2 percent. A plunge in demand for military equipment last month contributed to the decline.

Bookings for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, items like computers and communications gear, fell 1.3 percent after falling 6 percent the prior month. Shipments of such goods, used in calculating gross domestic product, increased 0.8 percent after falling 2.3 percent in January.

Manufacturing output climbed 0.4 percent in February after a 0.9 percent January gain that was three times as large as initially estimated, figures earlier this month from the Federal Reserve showed.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index rose in February to the highest level since May 2004.