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Associated Press
An autoworker helps assemble a 2015 Chrysler 200 at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Factory orders slipped 0.5 percent in May, pulled down by falling demand for military and transportation equipment.

US factory orders slide 0.5% after gains

– Orders to U.S. factories fell in May, ending three months of gains.

The Commerce Department reported that orders fell 0.5 percent, pulled down by falling demand for military and transportation equipment. That followed increases of 0.8 percent in April, 1.5 percent in March and 1.7 percent in February.

Excluding military hardware, factory orders rose 0.2 percent in May from April. Orders for transportation equipment fell 2.9 percent. Orders for computers and electronic equipment fell 2 percent, the biggest monthly drop since December.

Orders for durable goods, meant to last three years or more, fell 0.9 percent in May. Orders for nondurable goods slipped 0.2 percent.

Factory orders were up 2.5 percent from May 2013.

U.S. factories have been busy. The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that manufacturing expanded in June for the 13th consecutive month, though the pace of growth slowed from May.

A measure of employment showed that factories added jobs for the 12th consecutive month; the pace of hiring last month was the same as in May.

Manufacturers added 10,000 jobs in May as overall U.S. employers created more than 200,000 jobs for the fourth consecutive month, the longest such stretch since 1999. The government’s employment report for June comes out today.

The U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate from January through March.

But economists blame the first-quarter drop on an unusually bitter winter and a sharp reduction in businesses’ inventories.

They expect economic growth to rebound to an annual pace of 3 percent or more for the rest of the year, boosted by rising consumer demand and a rebound in U.S. export sales.

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