U.S. factory orders, auto sales buoy growth outlook

Tue Jun 3, 2014 5:08pm EDT
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New orders for U.S.-made factory goods rose for a third straight month in April and automakers reported robust vehicle sales in May, boosting the outlook for second-quarter economic growth.

Tuesday's reports added to bullish employment and other manufacturing data in suggesting the economy has rebounded smartly from the first quarter's weather-induced slump.

"This is consistent with other data showing growth bouncing back in the second quarter. Everything looks set for solid growth in the second half of this year," said Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

Factory orders increased 0.7 percent after an upwardly revised 1.5 percent advance in March, the Commerce Department said. March's orders had previously been reported as having risen 0.9 percent.

Excluding the volatile transportation category, orders rose 0.5 percent, the third straight monthly gain.

Surprisingly strong U.S. sales from automakers in May bolstered the upbeat view on the factory sector and suggested manufacturing was poised for further growth.

Auto sales surged 11.4 percent from a year earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual 16.77 million unit rate, the strongest pace since February 2007, according to research firm Autodata.

General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and Chrysler Group FIA.MI said May sales were the best for that month in seven years. Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) set a sales record for May and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote) had its best month ever.   Continued...

Workers assemble a wing for the Boeing 737-900 at their operations in Renton, Washington, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark