Factory orders increased 1.8 percent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Orders to U.S. factories rose sharply November on a surge in demand for airplanes. But demand for goods that signal business investment plans fell for the second straight month.

The Commerce Department says orders to U.S. factories rose 1.8 percent in November, following two months of declines. It was the best showing since a 2.1 percent gain in July.

But so-called core capital goods, such as computers and electronic equipment, dropped 1.2 percent following a 0.9 percent decline in October. The category is closely watched because it is a good proxy for business investment.

Manufacturing has been one of the bright spots in this sub-par recovery but there is concern that U.S. exports could falter if debt problems in Europe push that region into a severe recession.