Orders to U.S. factories rose broadly in September, propelled by business spending on commercial airplanes, boats and machines.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that factory orders rose by 2.1 percent in September, the steepest increase since January. Orders were flat in August.
Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 0.4 percent, after gaining 1.3 percent in August.
Business spending on big-ticket goods such as airplanes and heavy machines produced most of the demand. But consumer spending also rose by 1.0 percent, after running flat in August.
Economists have worried that recession-weary consumers will not spend enough to keep factories moving as business spending subsides. Wednesday's report may ease those fears.
Factory orders in September regained some of the strength they showed last winter, as manufacturing helped lift the nation out of its deepest recession in decades. Orders for costly, long-lasting goods grew by the most since January, as did overall transportation orders.
Photographic and corporate communications equipment orders were among the report's weak points. Orders in those categories fell by 18.6 percent and 21.0 percent.
Factories got a boost from government spending on military airplanes and communications equipment. Long-term investment in military increased by 8.5 percent, the most since January.