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US factory orders rose 1.3 percent in February

(AP) WASHINGTON - Orders to U.S. factories rose in February, as businesses bought more machinery and equipment.

The Commerce Department says orders to U.S. factories increased 1.3 percent in February following a 1.3 percent decline in January. Orders for core capital goods, a good measure of business investment plans, rose 1.7 percent - better than a preliminary estimate made last week.

U.S. factory orders have been steadily rising since the recession ended nearly three years. Orders totaled $468.4 billion in February, just 3.4 percent below the previous peak hit in 2008.

Orders rebounded in February after a January decline that followed the expiration of a tax credit on equipment purchases. Economists believe investment spending will do well even without the tax break.