The Commerce Department reported today that orders businesses placed to U.S. factories rose 2.8% in July after falling in the previous month. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 2% rise. June’s decrease of 0.5% was not revised.
Orders for durable goods, those manufactured products expected to last at least three years, were revised to a 4.1% gain from the 4.2% rise reported last week. Much of that gain was driven by a big jump in demand for aircraft.
Orders for nondurable goods, such as food and clothing to paper and chemical products, rose 1.5% in July. Factory shipments increased 2% in July, while inventories saw a gain of 0.5%.
There is and ongoing concern that U.S. manufacturing could falter. A possible slowdown in manufacturing has been blamed in part on rising business uncertainty over what Washington policymakers will do at the end of the year regarding the so-called fiscal cliff. That is, the danger that tax rates suddenly will jump and government programs will face signficant across-the-board spending cuts if Congress and the White House do not come to a budget agreement.