US factory orders fell 1 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Businesses sharply reduced orders for machinery and other core capital goods in January after a tax credit expired, pushing U.S. factory orders down by the largest amount in 15 months.

Even with the decrease, orders are near pre-recession levels.

The Commerce Department says factory orders fell 1 percent in January. Investment in a category considered a proxy for business investment fell 3.9 percent, the biggest decline in a year. This followed a big increase in December, the final month businesses could take advantage of a one-year investment tax break.

Orders totaled $462.6 billion in January, 37.7 percent above the recession low hit in March 2009 and only 4.6 percent below the previous orders peak set in June 2008. Manufacturing has been one of the bright spots in the recovery.