WASHINGTON -- Businesses ordered more computers, communications equipment and other big-ticket items in August, a hopeful sign for the economy.

Orders for capital goods, which are considered a good measure of business investment plans, rose 0.9 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was the second gain in three months.

Overall factory orders fell 0.2 percent, after rising a downwardly revised 2.1 percent in July. A sharp decline in orders for autos and auto parts dragged down the overall total. But that follows July's jump in automotive orders, which was the biggest increase in eight years. Automakers are returning to full production after output was interrupted by Japan's March 11 earthquake.

Economists pay close attention to orders for capital goods, which exclude volatile demand for defense or transportation goods. Businesses typically order more industrial machinery and other capital goods when they are confident in the economy.

Shipments of capital goods rose 2.8 percent in August, the fourth consecutive gain. The government looks closely at shipment data when calculating economic growth. -- AP

BusPatrol politics … Search ends at Heuermann's home … Service dogs in the Air Force Credit: Newsday

Memorial Day remembrance ... BusPatrol politics ... William Floyd fatal crash ... Athlete's comeback

BusPatrol politics … Search ends at Heuermann's home … Service dogs in the Air Force Credit: Newsday

Memorial Day remembrance ... BusPatrol politics ... William Floyd fatal crash ... Athlete's comeback

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