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February Durable Goods Orders Rise Unexpectedly

Orders for durable goods made in U.S. factories rose in February after six straight months of decline, according to the Commerce Department. Durable goods are defined as big-ticket manufactured items meant to last at least three years. The increase of 3.4 percent was the highest one-month gain in 14 months and a surprise in light of the average prediction by industry analysts of a 2 percent decline. However, Commerce also revised the figure for January to a 7.3 percent decline, down from the original 5.2 percent drop. The February gains included orders for heavy machinery, military aircraft and parts, computers, and fabricated metal products. Industry analysts warn that the increase should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign of the economy improving. Economist Adam York, quoted on The New York Times website, says, "You don't want to make a trend out of any one month. But we'll take the good news where we can get it, and here and there we're seeing some smatterings of less-bad economic data."

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