WASHINGTON—New orders for U.S.-made goods increased solidly in September, but further gains could be limited amid an anticipated slowdown in consumer spending as government money for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic runs out.
According to the Commerce Department, factory orders rose 1.1 percent after climbing 0.6 percent in August. Orders were boosted by increased demand for primary metals, computers and electronic products, motor vehicles and fabricated metal products. But, orders for machinery, furniture and electrical equipment, appliances and components fell.
Manufacturing, which accounts for 11.3 percent of U.S. economic activity, has been boosted by a shift in spending from services toward goods as Americans set up home offices and remote classrooms and avoid public transportation because of the coronavirus.
A survey on Monday from the Institute for Supply Management on Monday showed its measure of national factory activity raced to its highest level in nearly two years in October, with new orders surging to their highest level in almost 17 years.
On the other hand, a report from the Federal Reserve last month showed production at factories dropped 0.3 percent in September and remained 6.4 percent below its pre-pandemic level.