New orders for U.S.-made durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector rose more than expected in July and the number of workers seeking jobless benefits fell slightly last week, government reports showed on Thursday.

The orders report is an indication that at least the manufacturing sector is still doing reasonably well, said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist for RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

U.S. Treasury debt prices held gains while the dollar staged a fleeting recovery after the report. However, traders quickly turned their attention to the next set of data, new home sales due at 10 a.m. EDT. U.S. stocks opened higher.

Fed funds interest rate futures continued to indicate the Federal Reserve will keep rates steady in September.

Overall new orders for U.S.-made durable goods fell a much greater-than-expected 2.4 percent last month as civilian aircraft and car orders tumbled, a Commerce Department report showed.

It was the first decline in orders for durable goods, items built to last three years or longer, in three months, the Commerce Department said. Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting durable goods orders to fall 0.5 percent.

However, excluding transportation, durable goods orders rose a stronger-than-expected 0.5 percent as motor vehicle and parts orders dropped 7 percent and civilian aircraft orders slid 10 percent. Analysts were expecting a 0.3 percent rise in durable goods outside transportation.

When defense orders were stripped out, durable goods orders unexpectedly fell 1.9 percent as defense aircraft and parts orders rose 9 percent. Analysts were expecting a 0.5 percent rise in durable goods orders excluding defense.

A closely watched category that many see as a signal of business spending, non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, rose a much larger-than-expected 1.5 percent. Analysts had forecast a 0.4 percent rise in the category.

A separate report showed the number of workers seeking first-time jobless aid fell 1,000 last week, signaling a steady, solid job market.

The Labor Department said the number of initial claims for state jobless benefits declined to 313,000 last week from an upwardly revised 314,000 in the prior week. The total was slightly below the 315,000 claims that analysts had forecast in a Reuters poll.

The Labor Department had initially reported the prior week's total as 312,000 and a department analyst said there were no special factors explaining the latest week's dip. New claims have oscillated within a tight range of 297,000 to 322,000 since the beginning of June.

The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable barometer of employment conditions because it irons out weekly fluctuations, rose to 315,250 last week from a revised 311,750.

The number of workers remaining on state unemployment benefits for the week ended August 12, the latest week for which such figures were available, fell by 9,000 to 2.492 million, just below analysts' forecasts of 2.495 million.