Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods posted only a modest gain in March as a key category that tracks business investment plans remained weak.
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The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose a slight 0.7 percent in March, the weakest showing since a 0.9 percent decline in December. The strength came from big increases in the volatile categories of commercial aircraft and military aircraft which offset a drop in demand for motor vehicles.
The category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged up a slight 0.2 percent, the third straight month that this key category has shown weakness.
Manufacturers are hoping for a rebound this year after recent struggles with a strong dollar cutting into exports and cutbacks in the energy sector.
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer