NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Factory orders increased at a stronger-than-expected rate in June, helped by increased demand for electric lighting and wiring equipment as well as communications equipment, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The 0.7 percent increase from the prior month topped the 0.4 percent rise economists surveyed by Reuters were expecting.
Orders received by U.S. factories in June increased $2.5 billion for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $350.7 billion, the 10th increase in the last 13 months, the Commerce Department's Bureau of the Census said.
Excluding transportation, traditionally the most volatile sector, new orders rose 0.5 percent.
Factory orders for May were revised downward to a 1 percent increase from the 1.1 percent gain originally reported.
Electric equipment lights way for rise
New orders for manufactured durable goods such as cars and appliances rose 0.4 percent to $197.3 billion, from a previously published 0.3 percent increase.
New orders for nondurable goods climbed $1.8 billion, or 1.2 percent, to $153.4 billion.
Gains in June were strongest for electric lighting and wiring equipment orders, which rose 15.9 percent to $2.59 billion. In May, orders had fallen 5.9 percent.
Communications equipment orders also posted a significant increase of 6.4 percent to $8.91 billion, compared with a rise of 2.1 percent the previous month.
Transportation equipment orders rose 2.3 percent to $46.8 billion. In May, orders in the sector climbed 9.9 percent.
Growth in factory orders indicates continued economic strength, but there are some signs the U.S. economy may be slowing a bit. The National Association of Purchasing Management reported Monday that activity at the nation's factories expanded for a sixth straight month in July, though at a slower pace than in June.