U.S. businesses boost machinery orders
Factory growth driven by rising domestic demand and increased exports
WASHINGTON—Businesses in the U.S. increased their orders for heavy machinery, computers, autos and steel in March, boosting demand for long-lasting manufactured goods for a third straight month.
Orders rose 2.5 per cent last month, the Commerce Department said. That’s up from a revised 0.7 per cent increase in February.
Orders totaled $208.4 billion in March, 29.8 per cent above the recession low hit in March 2009.
Demand for autos jumped 3.7 per cent, the biggest increase in eight months. A brighter outlook for job growth will likely keep orders for autos rising, but concerns about high gasoline prices could slow that growth.
Manufacturing has been one of the U.S. economy’s strongest sectors since the recession ended in June 2009. Factory growth is fueled by rising domestic demand and increased exports.
A weaker dollar has also made U.S. goods cheaper overseas, while businesses are benefiting from a one-year tax break designed to spur investment in capital equipment.