News Summary: US factory orders drop sharply

FALLING DEMAND: Orders to U.S. factories fell in August from July, mostly because of a sharp drop in volatile aircraft orders. Orders dropped 5.2 percent, the biggest decline in more than three years. Aircraft orders plunged 102 percent.

SMALL POSITIVE: In a hopeful sign, orders for business equipment, often considered a proxy for corporate investment plans, rose 1.1 percent, after two steep declines.

MIXED PICTURE: The drop in orders reflects falling demand from overseas customers and more cautious U.S. businesses. But a survey of purchasing managers released Monday showed that manufacturing expanded in September after three months of declines. That suggests industry could be picking up a bit.