In this May 13, 2011 photo, Hewlett Packard computer boxes...

In this May 13, 2011 photo, Hewlett Packard computer boxes are stacked at Micro Center computer store in Santa Clara, Calif. Businesses boosted their orders for machinery, electronics products and airplanes in May after a big cutback in the previous month.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

The Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON -- Businesses boosted their orders for machinery, electronics products and airplanes in May. The pickup suggests manufacturing is rebounding after the Japan crises made parts scarce and slowed production of some factory goods temporarily, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Orders for long-lasting durable goods increased 1.9 percent last month compared with a decline of 2.7 percent the previous month that was largely the result of supply disruptions caused by Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The inability to get critical component parts slowed U.S. manufacturing.

The overall economy, meanwhile, expanded a little faster at the beginning of the year than previously estimated. But the pace was still anemic, and economists don't see that changing until later this year.

The Commerce Department said the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the January-March quarter. That's not much better than the 1.8 percent rate estimated a month ago. The small upward revision reflected stronger exports and more business spending on stockpiles.

"The rebound in orders for new durable goods in May will help ease any fears that the economy is headed for a double-dip recession," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

But Ashworth said the new report did not change his belief that "economic growth has slowed sharply over the past few months."

Orders for autos and auto parts rose 0.6 percent in May after having fallen 5.3 percent in April. The rebound in May in both autos and broader categories supports the view that the April lull was temporary.

Manufacturing has been one of the strongest sectors of the economy since the recession official ended two years ago.

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