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  • Associated Press Stihl Inc. apprentice Ryan Buzzy, right, works with Skip Johnson on a metalworking lathe in Virginia Beach, Va., on Thursday. The Commerce Department reported that U.S. factory orders were up in August.

Friday, October 06, 2017 1:00 am

Factory orders up for August

Metals, industrial machinery help fuel 1.2% growth

MATT OTT | Associated Press

Also: Trade deficit drops

WASHINGTON – Rising exports and falling imports cut the U.S. trade deficit to $42.4 billion in August, the lowest in 11 months.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the trade gap – the difference between exports and imports – fell in August from $43.6 billion in July.

Exports came in at $195.3 billion, up from $194.5 billion in July and most since December 2014, on higher shipments of cars, telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals. Imports slid to $237.7 billion from July's $238.1 billion.

A trade deficit means that the United States is buying more goods and services from other countries than it is selling to them. Minimizing that gap boosts U.S. economic growth.

– Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Orders at U.S. factories increased by 1.2 percent in August, driven by strong gains in aluminum and other metals, industrial machinery and autos.

The solid showing follows a steep drop of 3.3 percent in July, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Recent hurricanes didn't effect the data, the department said.

The report suggests U.S. manufacturing is benefiting from a stronger dollar and an improving global economy. Americans are buying more cars, in part to replace those destroyed by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That could boost orders in the coming months. The manufacturing sector continues to look healthy after a survey released this week found that factory activity expanded in September at the fastest pace in 13 years.

A category that serves as a proxy for business investment climbed a solid 1.1 percent after a 1.3 percent increase in July.

The gains in business investment show companies are optimistic about future demand from customers.

Orders for metals rose 1.2 percent, its best showing since February, and included a gain of 2.3 percent for aluminum orders.

Industrial machinery orders rose 11.5 percent after two months of declines and orders for autos rose 0.7 percent after declining 2.2 percent the previous month.

Excluding the transportation sector, factory orders rose 0.4 percent in August, after a 0.5 percent gain last month. Transportation includes the volatile aircraft category, in which orders soared nearly 45 percent after a plunge of more than 71 percent in July.

Orders for durable goods – items meant to last at least three years – were back up 2 percent after tumbling 6.8 percent in July.