In more encouraging news for America’s manufacturing industry, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday that factory orders rose 1.6% in January after declining for two straight months. While it doesn’t offset the 2.9% drop in December it is still the biggest such increase in seven months. The data, along with earlier reports of the increasing demand for Durable Goods, suggests that the worst of the factory slump in the US is behind us. Inventories of factory goods fell for the seventh straight month, suggesting that factories are making progress in reducing the inventory gut, which could also point future manufacturing activity. Unfilled orders to factories edged up 0.1% in January, marking the third increase in the last four months.