New orders for goods from U.S. factories increased in April for the third consecutive month, signaling a rebound in the manufacturing sector after a weather-related winter slowdown.
Factory orders rose 0.7% in April compared with March, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, exceeding economists' projections for a 0.5% increase.
The value of those orders hit a new record of $499 billion.
Orders are a sign of future activity and are watched closely in the manufacturing sector because of their importance to the economy.
Extreme weather in much of the nation led to drops in new orders in December and January.
Growth returned in February, with orders rising 1.7%.
Orders increased 1.5% in March, a figure revised up significantly Tuesday from an initial estimate of a 1.1% increase.
Analysts expected the bounce-back to slow in April as pent-up demand eased.
The better-than-expected performance was fueled in large part by a 1.4% increase in orders for airplanes and other transportation goods.
Manufacturers continued to build their inventories, with a 0.4% increase in April compared with the previous month. And shipments were up 0.3%, the third straight monthly increase.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times