New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose 1 percent in September, meeting Wall Street expectations, Commerce Department data showed on Wednesday.

This was the second increase in the last three months, and followed an unrevised 2.6 percent decline in August. Compared with a year ago, orders were down 24.1 percent.

Durable goods orders are a leading indicator of manufacturing, which in turn provides a good measure of overall business health.

Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, beat expectations and rose 2 percent in September after falling 0.8 percent the month before. Analysts had anticipated they would increase 0.9 percent.

Shipments of durable goods rose 0.8 percent in September and have been up for three of the last four months, while inventories fell for the ninth month in a row, by 1 percent.

There are concerns that the continued paring of inventories will be a drag on economic growth. The Commerce Department will report third-quarter gross domestic product on Thursday, and analysts are expecting a 3.3 percent rise, based on rebounds in consumer spending and the housing market.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Editing by Neil Stempleman)