U.S. factory orders rose 1.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted $370.52 billion – the largest gain since June 2000 – after falling a revised 0.1% in February, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

Even though government figures show inventories fell 0.6%, a sign that companies are unloading their inventory, carriers should not breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Total factory orders actually fell 1.2% to $318 billion. Orders for electronics, industrial machinery and non-durable goods all were down.

Transportation equipment orders, particularly ships and tanks for the defense industry, accounted for the overall rise because of a 24.8% gain. Within that category, orders for aircraft, missiles and space vehicles rose a sharp 24.4% while orders for shipbuilding and tanks rose a whopping 936.3%.