New U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods unexpectedly rebounded in February, rising for the first time in seven months, according to a government report on Wednesday that could bring some cheer to an economy mired in recession.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose 3.4 percent to $165.6 billion in February, the biggest increase since December 2007, after a revised 7.3 percent plunge the prior month, previously reported as a 4.5 percent decline.

New orders excluding transportation rose 3.9 percent in February, the largest gain since August 2005, while civilian aircraft and parts dropped 28.9 percent after Boeing reported only four new aircraft orders in the month after 18 orders in January.

Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, expanded 6.6 percent in February. The prior month was revised to an 11.3 percent drop, previously reported as a 5.7 percent decline.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected overall new orders to fall 2 percent in February, and orders excluding transportation to drop 2 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)