US factory orders beat expectations in August

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods increased more than expected in August and shipments accelerated, supporting views that economic growth strengthened in the third quarter.

Factory orders rebounded 1.2% after falling 2.1% in July, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast orders gaining 0.2%. Orders rose 0.5% on a year-on-year basis in August.

Manufacturing, which accounts for 11.1% of the economy, continues to plod along despite 525 basis points in rate hikes from the Federal Reserve since March 2022.

Orders for computers and electronic products gained 0.3%. Electrical equipment, appliances and components orders jumped 1.0%. Machinery orders gained 0.6%. Civilian aircraft orders fell 15.9%, while motor vehicle orders rose 0.3%.

Shipments of manufactured goods soared 1.3%. Manufactured goods inventory rose 0.3%, while unfilled orders increased 0.4%.

The Commerce Department also reported that orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, increased 0.9% as reported in last month’s estimate.

Shipments of these so-called core capital goods rose by an unrevised 0.7%. Business spending on equipment rebounded in the second quarter after contracting for two straight quarters.

Growth estimates for the third quarter are as high as a 4.9% annualized rate. The economy grew at a 2.1% pace in the April-June quarter.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)