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Orders Down On Durable Goods

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell 1.3 percent in September, held back by weaker demand for airplanes and cars. The decline was the first in five months.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that orders for durable goods - items expected to last at least three years - declined last month to a seasonally adjusted $204.9 billion.

It was the first decrease since a 2.4 percent decline in April and follows a revised 1 percent gain for August.

September's performance was weaker than many analysts expected. They were forecasting a 0.4 percent decline.

Orders for transportation equipment posted the largest decrease, falling 3.9 percent in September after a 3.6 percent gain the month before.

Weaker demand for airplane and aircraft parts and automobile and car parts brought the biggest decreases in September. The transportation sector had its first decline since April.

Transportation often is volatile from month to month because it includes such big-ticket purchases as airplanes. The decrease in transportation orders comes as the auto industry expects a record year of sales.

There were some bright spots in the report. Orders for industrial machinery, including computers and machine tools, rose 0.4 percent in September, following a 2.1 percent decline in August.

The weak report comes as worries about the prospects of higher interest rates have shaken Wall Street. Federal Reserve policy-makers will meet Nov. 16 to decide whether to raise interest rates for a third time this year to slow the economy and keep inflation under control.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence fell sharply in October, extending its decline to a fourth straight month and suggesting that the Fed has succeeded in cooling off the economy by raising interest rates.

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