Factory Orders Up 1.2 Percent in April

Orders for U.S. manufactured items rose strongly in April, posting their biggest gain since October 2001, a government report Friday said, providing further evidence of the recovery in the U.S. factory sector.

The Commerce Department said factory orders gained a larger-than-expected 1.2 percent to $323.87 billion in April after a revised 1.0 percent advance in March. New orders for durable goods -- items meant to last for three or more years -- rose 1.5 percent, bigger than the 1.1 percent gain previously reported.

The report showed strength across a variety of sectors. Orders for machinery rose 4.5 percent in the month, their biggest rise since March 2000. Orders for electrical equipment and appliances were up 9.6 percent. Computer and electronic parts products orders were up 3.0 percent.

However, Commerce noted that, for the second straight month, it was unable to compile figures for semiconductor shipments, orders and inventories due to computer chipmakers' unwillingness to supply information.

Analysts polled by Reuters had projected factory orders to post a smaller rise of about 0.8 percent.