US Durable Goods Advance Modest 0.7% in March

Economic Indicators Associated Press

A worker assembles a Boeing's 737 MAX airplane wing at the company's production facility Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Renton, Wash. Boeing plans to deliver its first 737 MAX airplane by May. Boeing's latest innovations inside its Renton factory includes ... new robotic machines as well as more efficient ways of deploying its mechanics. The company is also increasing its 737 production rate to 47 per month, from 42. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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

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