US factory orders up 1.9 percent in April, best in 6 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories increased by the largest amount in six months but much of the strength came from a rise in demand for commercial aircraft. A key category that tracks business investment plans fell.

The Commerce Department says factory orders increased 1.9 percent in April, the biggest gain since a 2.4 percent rise in October. Orders had been up 1.7 percent in March after having fallen in February.

Demand in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending declined 0.6 percent after a small 0.3 percent increase in March and 2.1 percent February decline.

Manufacturing has been hurt in the past year by a big plunge in investment spending in the oil industry and weakness in exports, which reflecting a global slowdown and the strong dollar.