News Summary: US factory orders up 2.8 pct in July

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2012 at 10:16 am •  Published: August 31, 2012

MIXED SIGNALS: Orders to U.S. companies rose 2.8 percent in July, reflecting a surge in demand for autos and commercial aircraft. It was the biggest overall advance in a year. But a key orders category that tracks business investment plans fell 4 percent, the largest amount in eight months, the Commerce Department said.

THE TAKEAWAY: The drop in what are called core capital goods orders could be a troubling sign of manufacturing weakness. That category, a good proxy for investment spending, was down for the fourth time in the past five months.

THE CONCERN: The worry is that businesses have begun to scale back their plans to expand and modernize in the face of spreading economic weakness in Europe and such major U.S. export markets as China, Brazil and India.

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