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Companies ordered more factory goods in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Businesses requested more airplanes, autos, and oil drilling equipment in May The jump in factory orders after a sluggish spring suggests supply disruptions stemming from the Japan crisis are fading.

Factory orders rose 0.8 percent in May, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That followed a downwardly revised drop of 0.9 percent in April.

The increase pushed factory orders to $445.3 billion. That’s almost 32 percent higher than the low point during the recession, reached in March 2009.

Much of the increase was driven by a 36.5 percent increase in orders for aircraft, a volatile category. But there were also signs of strength in areas that had slowed sharply in the previous month.

Auto and auto parts orders rose 2 percent. And a measure of business investment rose 1.6 percent, after falling 0.4 percent the previous month. Companies invested more in computers and equipment.

Orders for so-called nondurable goods, such as food, clothing, oil, and plastics, fell 0.2 percent in May. But that was partly because oil prices dropped.

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