WASHINGTON – Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose for a second month in July, and demand in a key category that tracks business investment plans jumped by the largest amount in 13 months.The Commerce Department said Wednesday orders for durable goods — items expected to last at least three years like refrigerators and cars — increased 2 per cent in July after a 4.1 per cent gain in June.The result adds to a string of recent economic data that indicate the U.S. economy is on solid ground even in the face of various global headwinds. Deepening concerns about China’s economy have sent shock waves through the world’s financial markets in recent days.“As global equities continue to be roiled by uncertainty in China, we can be grateful that at least the heavyweight in the developed world is growing,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, of the United States. “We already had a string of very positive data. And now, the weak link also known as business investment appears to be turning the corner.”Orders in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment expanded 2.2 per cent in July following a 1.4 per cent rise in June. These orders had fallen in four of the previous five months, reflecting the soft patch that manufacturing has faced this year.Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, called the gain in business investment “really good news.” He described the result as a solid indication that the big cutbacks in investment spending by oil companies were starting to taper off.The July increase in orders for durable goods was bigger than economists had been forecasting. They rose even though demand for commercial aircraft fell 6 per cent during the month following a 69.7 per cent surge in June.Orders for machinery rose by 1.5 per cent, and demand for communications equipment increased 1.8 per cent. Orders for computers and primary metals such as steel both fell.While the July durable goods report is encouraging, U.S. manufacturers must still contend with a host of risks that could set them back in the months ahead, including turbulence in China, a strong dollar and falling oil prices.The higher value of the dollar against foreign currencies makes U.S. goods more expensive and less competitive in major export markets. The lower oil prices have led energy companies to scale back their investment plans.The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 0.6 per cent in the January-March quarter before reviving to a growth rate of 2.3 per cent in the April-June period.Many economists believe the second quarter figure will be revised higher to above 3 per cent when the government issues its second look at GDP in the spring on Thursday. by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Aug 26, 2015 6:50 am MDT Last Updated Aug 26, 2015 at 10:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email US durable goods orders advance 2 per cent in July; investment demand up sharply FILE – In this June 9, 2015, file photo, a Ford Motor Co. employee works on the instrument panel of a 2016 Ford Explorer at the Chicago Assembly Plant in Chicago. The Commerce Department releases durable goods orders for July on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

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