US factory orders fell 3.4 percent in December in fifth straight monthly decline

Energy Associated Press

Orders to U.S. factories dropped for a fifth consecutive month in December, while a key category that signals business investment plans fell for a fourth straight month.

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The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 3.4 percent in December after a 1.7 percent drop in November. It was the biggest drop since a 10 percent plunge in August and marked the fifth straight month that orders have fallen.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged down 0.1 percent after bigger declines in the previous three months.

The stronger U.S. dollar and global weakness have hurt American exports, but economists are still optimistic that surging domestic demand will result in a rebound in factory orders this year.