updated 11/2/2006 10:23:57 AM ET 2006-11-02T15:23:57

Orders to U.S. factories for manufactured products rose by 2.1 percent in September, the biggest increase in six months, but virtually all of the strength came in a surge in orders for commercial aircraft.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday said that orders for long-lasting durable goods were up 8.3 percent, offsetting a 4.6 percent drop in demand for food, gasoline and other non-durable products.

The increase in durable goods, which was revised up from an initial estimate last week of a 7.8 percent gain, reflected a huge 189.7 percent surge in demand for commercial aircraft.

Excluding airplanes and other transportation products, factory orders would have fallen by 2.4 percent. The drop in non-durable goods was attributed in part to lower prices for petroleum products.

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