WASHINGTON - Orders to U.S. factories rose in February after two months of declines but a critical category that signals business investment plans fell.
The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1.6 percent in February, the most in five months, following declines of 1 percent in January and 2 percent in December. The February gain reflected a rebound in orders for commercial aircraft and autos. Orders in both categories had fallen for two consecutive months before rebounding in February.
But demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide to business investment plans, fell 1.4 percent in February, the second decline in three months. Many economists say that this weakness was due in part to the severe winter, which caused businesses to postpone plans to expand or modernize their operations.