WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department reports on U.S. factory orders in January. The report will be released at 10 a.m. EST Thursday.
ORDERS DOWN: The forecast is that orders slipped 0.3 percent in January, according to a survey of economists by FactSet.
TEMPORARY WEAKNESS: For December, orders fell 1.5 percent, the biggest drop in six months. Bur orders in a closely watched category that serves as a proxy for business investment dipped only a scant 0.6 percent.
The factory orders report covers demand for both durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, and non-durable goods, products such as chemicals, food and paper.
In an advance report that will be updated Thursday, the government said that demand for durable goods fell 1 percent in January as businesses cut back on orders for planes, autos and machinery.
But the category that reflects business investment rebounded in January, rising by 1.7 percent.
Many economists believe that manufacturing has gone through a soft patch but will be emerging to stronger growth in coming months.
That expectation is based on the view that the overall economy, after slowing in the final three months of last year and the first quarter this year, will rebound to stronger growth. Many economists are forecasting that the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, could expand at an annual rate of around 3 percent in 2014, up significantly from last year's 1.9 percent gain.
Last year, growth was held back by higher taxes which dampened consumer demand and across-the-board spending cuts by the federal government. It is estimated those two factors cut growth by about 1.5 percentage points. However, those adverse impacts will be waning this year and with the labor market expected to keep expanding, the hope is that growth will reach to the fastest pace since the recession.
The Institute for Supply Management, a group of purchasing managers, reported Monday that its closely watched manufacturing gauge rose to 53.2 in February, up from 51.3 in January.
The increase only partly reversed a five-point drop in January, but economists were encouraged that the direction was positive. Any reading above 50 indicates manufacturing is expanding.
For February, the index rose in part because of an increase in both new and backlogged orders although there was strength in other areas as well. Four of the 18 industries that are tracked by the survey reported growth.
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