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US Durable Goods Fall Less than Forecast

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US Durable Goods Fall Less than Forecast

New orders for US durable goods declined less than forecast in January, a sign factory activity was stabilizing after the winter slowdown.

Orders for manufactured goods meant to last three years or more declined 1 percent in January, after plunging 5.3 percent in December, official data from the Commerce Department revealed today. Economists polled by Reuters called for a steeper drop of 1.5 percent.

Core durables excluding transportation unexpectedly rose 1.1 percent last month, after falling 1.9 percent in December. Economists polled by Reuters forecast a narrow drop of 0.3 percent.

New orders declined for the third time in the last four months. Transportation equipment, which was also down three of the last four months, contributed the most to the decline. Inventories of manufactured goods, up nine of the last ten months, increased 0.3 percent to $389.1 billion, official data showed. Growth in core durables was driven by electronic products, defense capital goods and fabricated metals.

Factory activity faced several setbacks this winter, as frigid temperatures gripped the Midwestern and eastern United States. The January data, while more upbeat than forecast, weren’t enough to alter expectations that economic growth was subdued in the early part of the first quarter.

Industrial production, manufacturing and consumer spending all faced setbacks this winter. Meanwhile, the pace of hiring in December declined to its lowest level since January 2011. US employers added 113,000 payrolls in January, official data from the Labor Department showed earlier this month. A separate report from the Labor Department today showed jobless claims increased 14,000 last week, higher than expected.

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