New orders received by U.S. factories rose in February, government data showed on Thursday, breaking a six-month streak of declines and bolstering hopes the economy may be beginning to crawl out of the depths of a recession.

The Commerce Department said factory orders rose 1.8 percent in February after a revised 3.5 percent drop in January, initially reported as a 1.9 percent decline.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a February increase of 1.5 percent.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, seen as a measure of business confidence, jumped 7.1 percent after a steep 12.3 percent drop in January.

(Reporting by Emily Kaiser, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)