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Durable Goods Orders Drop Sharply

Orders for big-ticket goods produced in U.S. factories dropped by a larger-than-expected 5.2 percent in January, according to a report from the Department of Commerce. The decline was more than double the 2.5 percent average prediction from industry analysts and was the sixth straight month that saw a drop. At the same time, the Commerce Department revised the December figures to a 4.6 percent decline versus the 3.0 percent previously announced. Orders for transportation equipment in January fell 13.5 percent, the largest drop in more than two years; within that category, autos and auto parts fell 6.4 percent, and defense aircraft and parts fell 28.3 percent. The only categories recording gains were civil aircraft with 81.7 percent -- after a decline in December of 59.1 percent -- and communications equipment with 1.2 percent.

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