It was an unbelievably busy March for U. S. factories and a surge in home buying are the latest signs that the economic recovery is picking up.
Orders to U. S. factories rose 1.3 percent in March, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was much better than the 0.1 percent decline analysts had expected. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders gained 3.1 percent, the biggest increase since August 2005.
A separate report showed that more people than expected signed contracts on previously owned homes in March. The jump, in large part, resulted from tax incentives that have propelled the housing market this spring.