Factory Orders Far Better Than Expected

By John S. McClenahen New orders for manufactured goods -- excluding semiconductors -- increased 1.1% to $342.4 billion in December, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Feb. 4. It was new factory orders' best showing since December 2000 and several times greater than the 0.3% increase economists generally expected. New orders of manufactured durable goods -- products designed to last three years or longer -- increased $500 million, or 0.3%, to $181.9 billion in December, a revision to the previous estimate, which showed a $100 million decline in December durable goods orders. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods rose $3.1 billion, or 2%, to $160.5 billion in December. For all of 2003, new orders for manufactured goods were up 3.9% from 2002.

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