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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Jet sales lift US factory orders
Boeing aircraft under construction
Orders for transportation goods, such as plane, are rising fast
US factory orders jumped in March boosted by demand for civilian aircraft, official figures show.

Total orders to factories rose by 3.1%, topping forecasts for a rise of 2.1% and adding to signs that a recent US manufacturing slowdown may be ending.

Orders for transportation goods such as aircraft fared strongly, rising by 9.5%, the Commerce Department said.

A separate report recently indicated that US manufacturing activity was increasing after a previous decline.

The Institute for Supply Management said its closely-watched manufacturing activity index rose to an 11-month high of 54.7 in April. A figure below 50 implies contraction in the sector.

US manufacturing sentiment has been rocky in recent months, as companies looked to trim new orders in the wake of a general slump in housing and a build-up in supplies of unsold cars.

However, the Commerce Department said orders for durable goods - items built to last for at least three years - rose by a healthy 3.7% during March, topping forecasts for a rise or 3.3%.

Orders for non-durable goods, such as petrol and chemicals, rose by 2.3% - the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.

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