Factory orders surged in January at the strongest pace in more than four years, led by a sharp rise in aircraft orders, the Commerce Department said on March 4.
Orders in the manufacturing sector, which is driving the economy's recovery from recession, leaped 3.1% in January, widely topping expectations and accelerating from a 1.4% gain in December.
It was the biggest increase since September 2006, thanks to a 52% jump in orders for civilian aircraft and parts. Defense aircraft orders rose 19%.
Excluding transportation orders, which can be volatile on a monthly basis, factory orders rose for the sixth straight month but edged up only 0.7%, compared with a 3% increase in December.
The Commerce Department revised upward its reading on orders for durable goods -- manufactured items expected to last three years -- to 3.2%, from a 2.7% increase initially estimated last month.
Orders for nondurable goods, which represent roughly 55% of all manufacturing sector orders, rose 3.1% in January, unchanged from the prior month.
Compared with a year ago, total factory orders were up 10.8% from January 2010.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011