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Factory Orders Rise Less Than Expected

By John S. McClenahen If 19th Century English novelist Charles Dickens had been forecasting February factory orders, he might have titled his outlook "Great Expectations." Economists were anticipating as much as a 2% gain from January's level. But the U.S. Commerce Department reported on March 31 that total new orders for manufactured durables and nondurables increased just 0.3% in February, a result better titled "Bleak House." New orders for manufactured durable goods, products that are designed to last three years or more, increased 2.5% to $183.9 billion in February, slightly less than the preliminary estimate. Paced by aircraft and parts, transportation equipment posted the largest sectoral gain among durables in February, increasing 9.6% to $54.3 billion. Indeed, without the transportation sector, new orders for all manufactured goods would have declined 1.2% in February. New orders for nondurables fell 2% to $159.1 billion in February, following five consecutive monthly increases.

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