Autos lift U.S. factory goods orders in July

Wed Sep 2, 2015 10:04am EDT
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New orders for U.S. factory goods rose for a second straight month in July on strong demand for automobiles, which could help to keep manufacturing supported as it deals with a strong dollar and softening global demand.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new orders for manufactured goods increased 0.4 percent after an upwardly revised 2.2 percent rise in June.

Factory activity has been hobbled by a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector after last year's sharp plunge in crude oil prices. Tepid global demand is also hurting manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the domestic economy.

A report on Tuesday showed the manufacturing industry braked to a more than two-year low in August, with some economists blaming the slowdown on the recent global stock market sell-off.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders rising 0.9 percent in July after a previously reported 1.8 percent increase in June.

The dollar has gained 16.8 percent against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners since June 2014, which has undercut export growth and weighed on the profits of multinationals.

Orders for transportation equipment rose 5.5 percent in July as bookings for motor vehicles and parts increased 4.0 percent, the largest gain in a year. Orders for automobiles are likely to remain strong after sales surged in August.

In July, there were increases in orders for machinery, electrical equipment, appliances and components, and computers and electronic products.

The Commerce Department also said orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft - seen as a measure of business confidence and spending plans – increased 2.1 percent instead of the 2.2 percent rise reported last month.   Continued...

 
An assembly worker works on 2015 Ford Mustang vehicles on the production line at the Ford Motor Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, August 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook