The data heightened Wall Street's expectations over the government's non-farm payrolls report on Friday.
The economy appears to be gaining some momentum after an unusually cold and snowy winter. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management, a group of purchasing managers, reported that U.S. manufacturing grew at a slightly faster pace last month as factory output bounced back from disruptions caused by severe winter weather.
And U.S. auto sales rose 6 percent to 1.5 million vehicles last month, far outpacing analysts' expectations. The sales pace was the fastest since November, according to Autodata Corp.
(Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report)