WASHINGTON – Orders placed with U.S. factories rose to a record high in June, boosted by strong demand for airplanes, machinery and autos.
Factory orders rose 1.5 percent in June compared with May, when orders had risen 3 percent, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The gains pushed total orders to a record $496.7 billion.
It was the second month that factory orders have been at an all-time high, surpassing the previous record set in June 2008. Demand for factory goods had plunged during the recession.
Orders in a key category that tracks business investment rose 0.9 percent in June, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.
Manufacturing struggled in the early part of this year, held back by weaker global growth and steep government spending cuts. But those trends may be starting to reverse.
Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, rose 3.9 percent in June. That represented a slight downward revision from a preliminary report which had put the increase at 4.2 percent.
Orders for nondurable goods such as chemicals, paper and food fell 0.6 percent in June after a 0.8 percent increase in May.
Demand for machinery increased 2.6 percent in June, led by a 44.1 percent surge in oil and gas drilling equipment. Demand for transportation products rose 12 percent, reflecting a 32.1 percent jump in orders for commercial aircraft. Demand for autos was up 2 percent.
Aircraft orders are volatile from month to month. Boeing said it received orders for 287 planes in June, up from 232 in May. Excluding transportation goods, orders fell 0.4 percent in June after a 1 percent rise in May.