The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that orders to U.S. factories for durable manufactured goods increased by $13.3 billion to $230.6 billion in March. The increase reflected demand for civilian aircraft, but included everything from computers to airplanes. The increase is the largest since May 2005 and is more than three times the increase onWall Street. Two-thirds of the gain came from a more than 70 percent rise in demand for commercial aircraft.
Economists told the Associated Press that they believe the overall economy rebounded strongly in the first three months of this year after a lull in the final three months of 2005 with part of the momentum being supplied by the manufacturing sector. Several economists said the economy grew at an annual rate approaching 5 percent in the January-March quarter, up from a modest 1.7 percent growth rate in the October-December period.
Other sectors seeing a rise in March included the automotive industry, which saw orders rise by 2.8 percent. Other gains include a 7.5 percent rise for machinery, computers, and electronic products.