July 13, 2024

Factory Orders Increased in May

WASHINGTON — Businesses requested more airplanes, autos and oil drilling equipment in May, according to a government report on Tuesday, suggesting supply disruptions stemming from the Japan crisis are fading.

The Commerce Department said factory orders rose 0.8 percent in May. That followed a downwardly revised drop of 0.9 percent in April.

Much of the May increase was driven by orders for aircraft, a volatile category, which jumped 36.5 percent. Auto and auto parts orders rose 2 percent. Excluding transportation, factory orders increased 0.2 percent in May, the same as April and down from a 2.9 percent gain in March.

The report also showed that companies, flush with cash, are investing in computers and other equipment. A measure of business investment rose 1.6 percent, after falling 0.4 percent the previous month.

Orders for so-called nondurable goods, such as food, clothing, oil and plastics, fell 0.2 percent in May. That’s partly because oil prices fell in May.

The manufacturing sector has been one of the strongest areas of the economy since the recession ended two years ago. But factory output slowed this spring. Economists have blamed the sluggish stretch largely on high gas prices and the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which led to a parts shortage that has hampered manufacturers.

Those factors appear to be easing. Gas prices have come down since peaking in early May. And the manufacturing sector expanded at a faster pace in June after slowing sharply in May, according to the Institute of Supply Management.

The government reports Friday on hiring data in June. Economists expect the economy added only 90,000 jobs and the unemployment rate was unchanged, according to a survey by FactSet.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=171f753707983bd7450dbf90199adfc8

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