WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell 3.8 percent in January to their lowest level in 14 months, fresh evidence that manufacturers continue to struggle during the economic slowdown.
The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the decline in factory orders, which followed a 0.6 percent increase in December, was led by a sharp drop in demand for airplanes, cars and other transportation equipment.
January's performance was slightly weaker than the 3.5 percent decrease many analysts were expecting. The decline pulled orders to a seasonally adjusted $366.5 billion, the lowest level since November 1999.
On Wall Street, stocks rose lifted in part by other economic news showing that growth in Americans' productivity, while slower, was still solid in the fourth quarter despite the sharp economic slowdown. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 91 points and the Nasdaq 80 in the first half hour of trading.
In another report, productivity, a key measure of rising living standards, slowed in the fourth quarter to a 2.2 percent rate of growth, down from a 3 percent rate in the previous quarter reflecting the weakened state of the economy, the Labor Department said.
The revised fourth-quarter productivity figure was still a healthy gain and was a better showing than the 2 percent rate of growth many analysts were expecting. But it was slightly weaker performance than the 2.4 percent growth rate the government previously estimated.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.