Orders to U.S. factories for manufactured goods rose 2.7% in April, the best showing in four months, the government reported today.
The Commerce Department said orders for durable and non-durable goods climbed to a seasonally adjusted $239.4 billion last month after rising 0.7% in March and dropping during the first two months of the year.
April’s increase reflected higher demand in a variety of industry categories, and would have been even stronger were it not for a 15.8% drop in defense orders, which are subject to wide swings depending on when big contracts are signed.
Excluding defense, all other orders were up 3.6% in April after falling 0.3% in March and 2.7% in February.
April’s upturn in factory orders was in line with other recent reports on the economy’s performance which analysts say suggest that while growth is slowing, a recession is not imminent.
It was the strongest gain since a 4.7% increase in orders last December.
In the volatile transportation category, orders rose 1.4% in April after jumping 11% in March and falling 7.6% in February.
Excluding transportation, all other orders were up 3% last month after falling during the previous two months.
Orders for non-defense capital goods, meanwhile, posted a strong 6.1% gain in April after rising 2.5% in March. That category is considered a good barometer of business investment plans.