Firms step up big-ticket orders
WASHINGTON - Businesses ordered more computers, communications equipment, and other big-ticket items in August, a hopeful sign for the slumping economy.
Orders for capital goods, considered a good measure of business investment plans, rose 0.9 percent in August, the Commerce Department said yesterday. It was the second gain in three months.
Overall factory orders fell 0.2 percent, after rising a downwardly revised 2.1 percent in July. A sharp decline in orders for autos and auto parts dragged down the overall total.
The increases suggest businesses kept investing in their companies during a difficult month. Such spending should help boost growth in the July-September quarter. Many economists estimate growth will reach an annual pace of 2.5 percent in the quarter, an improvement from the 0.9 percent pace in the first six months of this year.