Orders placed with U.S. factories increased in February, boosted by a pickup in demand for motor vehicles and commercial aircraft.
The 3 percent gain in bookings, the biggest in five months, followed a revised 1 percent decline in January, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 64 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 2.9 percent rise. The advance was led by a 5.6 percent surge in demand for durable goods that was little changed from the 5.7 percent estimate issued last week.
Auto sales that are on pace for the best year since 2007 and gains in home construction are helping drive sales and orders at manufacturers such as 3M Co. (MMM) and H.B. Fuller Co. (FUL) More corporate investment and inventory rebuilding are also keeping assembly lines busy, contributing to economic growth as businesses look beyond federal budget cuts.
“Business spending will have another good year,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “There’s demand here in the U.S., and some return of export growth.”
Stocks held earlier gains after the report. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.6 percent to 1,571.33 at 10:04 a.m. in New York.
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from gains of 0.8 percent to 4.5 percent. The Commerce Department revised the January figure from a previously reported drop of 2 percent.
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