FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019, file photo, Maurine Carter works on the wiring of a stove in LaFayette, Ga. Orders to American factories for big-ticket goods rebounded last month from a disastrous April as the U.S. economy began to slowly reopen. The Commerce Department said that orders for manufactured goods meant to last at least three years shot up 15.8% in May after plunging 18.1% in April.(Erin O. Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods jumped 11.2% in July, the third consecutive monthly gain.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the July advance followed a 7.7% increase in June.

The July increase was led by a strong advance in the volatile transportation sector, which was up 35.6%. Excluding transportation sector, orders would have risen by a more modest 2.4%.

A closely watched category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans rose 1.9% in July after a much bigger 4.3% rebound in June.

While the gains in orders for durable goods is welcome, economists caution that the rebound after steep declines could falter if the coronavirus pandemic resurges in the fall and forces more factory shutdowns.

The big jump in transportation was led by a 21.9% surge in orders for motor vehicles and parts which offset another big decline in demand for commercial aircraft as airlines cntnue cancelling previous orders in the face of a plunge in air travel linked to the coronavirus.

The 11.2% rise in orders in July left total durable goods orders at a seasonally adjusted $230.7 billion.