WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories edged higher in August, with a key category that tracks business investment plan rising for a third straight month.

The Commerce Department says factory orders increased 0.2 percent in August after a much larger 1.4 percent gain in July. However, the overall figure was heavily influenced by a swing in the volatile commercial aircraft category, which had jumped 72.9 percent in July but declined 22.7 percent in August.

A core category, which serves as a proxy for business investment, was up 0.9 percent in August. It was the third straight monthly increase. Analysts are hoping the string of gains in the investment category could be a signal that businesses are beginning to spend again to expand and modernize their facilities.

VIAThe Associated Press
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