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Durable goods orders up 0.2 percent in April

WASHINGTON — Orders for long-lasting factory goods edged up slightly in April but a key category that tracks business investment spending fell for a second straight month.

Orders for durable goods increased a slight 0.2 percent last month after a 3.7 percent decline in March, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

But core capital goods orders, which are considered a proxy for business investment plans, fell 1.9 percent in April after a 2.2 percent decline in March. Demand for computers and electronics products and heavy machinery fell.

Overall orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, rose to $215.5 billion, up 52.5 percent from their recession low hit in the spring of 2009. Orders are still 11.6 percent below their peak in December 2007.

Manufacturing has been a leading source of growth and jobs since the recession ended. Economists believe that trend will continue. Other data suggest manufacturing strengthening last month.

The Institute for Supply Management said factory activity grew in April at the fastest pace in 10 months. The group’s closely watched index of manufacturing activity also showed strength in new orders, production and hiring.

The Federal Reserve reported that U.S. factory output rose 0.6 percent in April. Half of that increase reflected a big jump in production of motor vehicles and parts.

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