WASHINGTON (AP) - Orders to U.S. factories rose in May, helped by a third straight month of stronger business investment. The gain suggests manufacturing is picking up after a weak start to the year.

WASHINGTON (AP) Orders to U.S. factories rose in May, helped by a third straight month of stronger business investment. The gain suggests manufacturing is picking up after a weak start to the year.

The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 2.1 percent last month, mostly because of a big jump in volatile commercial aircraft demand. April's increase was revised higher to 1.3 percent from 1 percent.

Businesses also ordered more machinery, computers and household appliances. That helped boost a measure of business investment spending 1.5 percent, the third straight gain and stronger than a preliminary estimate of 1.1 percent. The category excludes volatile aircraft and defense orders.

Excluding transportation, orders rose a modest 0.6 percent.