WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department reports on orders placed with U.S. factories in October. The report will be released at 10 a.m. Eastern Thursday.
OCTOBER LOSS: Economists forecast that orders fell 1 percent in October compared with September, according to a survey by FactSet.
RECENT SLOWDOWN: Businesses invested less in machinery and computers and other long-lasting manufactured goods in October, according to preliminary report on orders for durable goods released last week.
Demand for commercial aircraft plunged nearly 16 percent in October. But orders also fell 1.2 percent in the closely watched category of capital core goods, which exclude volatile transportation and defense orders. That was the second straight drop.
Economists pay close attention to core capital goods because those orders can reflect businesses' confidence in the economy. The decline suggests businesses were hesitant to invest during the 16-day partial government shutdown that month.
CONFLICTS WITH OTHER REPORTS: The government's data has conflicted with other reports, most notably a private survey released earlier this week.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said Monday that factory activity grew last month at the fastest pace in 2 ½ years. It was also the sixth straight month of improvement in the survey.
Strong auto sales have pushed up demand for steel and other metals, while the rebound in home construction after a summer lull should translate into demand for furniture and appliances.
Factory output rose for the third straight month in October, according to the Federal Reserve, driven higher by greater production of primary metals and furniture. Overseas demand for many goods has also risen as Europe has climbed out of recession, Japan is growing faster and China's economy has slowed but is still growing at a healthy pace.
Manufacturers are also hiring more workers, typically a sign of confidence in the market. Factories have added 38,000 jobs from August through October, according to government's employment reports. November was likely another strong month, according to the ISM data and private payroll provider ADP. On Wednesday, ADP said factories added 18,000 jobs in November.
The government releases its November employment report on Friday.
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