WASHINGTON -- Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket goods jumped 1.1 percent in April, with demand especially strong for cars, communications equipment and machinery.

The solid advance came after orders for durable goods -- items expected to last at least three years -- edged up 0.2 percent in March, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

With April's increase, orders for costly manufactured goods have gone up for five straight months. The 1.1 percent increase in durable-goods orders was much larger than many analysts were expecting. They were forecasting a tiny 0.1 percent rise.