Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods jump 7.3% in June

Gains were likely insufficient to avert a historic plunge in business investment and the economy

WASHINGTON — Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods rose a solid 7.3% in June, the second big monthly gain as manufacturing tries to climb out of a spring slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Commerce Department said Monday that the June gain in durable goods orders, which was better than expected, followed an even bigger 15.1% increase in May. Those two increases came after sharp declines in March and April as factories shut down in response to the lockdown measures taken in the spring.

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A closely watched gauge of business investment posted a strong 3.3% increase in June after a 1.6% rise in May.

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While the orders numbers have been strong the past two months, economists caution that manufacturing could slump again if the recent surge in virus cases in many parts of the country disrupt efforts to get the economy moving again.