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Factory gains led by aircraft

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The government says orders to U.S. factories rose by a larger-than-expected amount in July as demand for commercial aircraft, heavy machinery and iron and steel all posted solid gains.

The Commerce Department reported today that new orders increased by 1.3 percent in July, much stronger than the 0.8 percent increase economists had been expecting. The July advance follows an even bigger 2.1 percent increase in June and represents the fifth straight rise.

Manufacturers have been seeing a sharp slowdown in the U.S. economy offset by strong gains in foreign demand, helped by a weaker dollar which makes their products more competitive overseas.

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