Factory orders continue to climb

Businesses increased their demand for industrial machinery, computers and automobiles in March, lifting factory orders for the fifth consecutive month, according to the latest data from the U.S. Commerce Department.

U.S. factory orders rose 3 percent in March after a 0.7 percent increase in February, the department reported. The March increase pushed total orders to $462.9 billion, up 31.2 percent from the recession low of March 2009.

The manufacturing sector has been one of the strongest segments of the economy since the Great Recession ended nearly two years ago. The Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity rose for a 21st consecutive month in April.

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