Factory orders edge up in April

EVERETT, WASHINGTON - JUNE 13: Employees work on the Boeing 777 assembly line June 13, 2012 at the Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear

WASHINGTON Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in April as manufacturers rebounded from a weak March performance.

The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1 percent in April compared with March when orders had dropped a sharp 4.7 percent. The big swing reflected volatility in commercial aircraft orders, which were down sharply in March but surged 53.3 percent in April.

In a hopeful sign, orders in a category viewed as a proxy for business investment spending posted a moderate 1.2 percent rise following a 1.1 percent gain in March. This category had fallen 4.8 percent in February.

More spending by businesses could ease fears that manufacturing will be a drag on the economy later this year.

April's increase pushed orders to $474 billion, 1.7 percent higher than a year ago.