Monday, December 29, 2003 - Durable Goods' Take a Header

America's factories saw orders for big-ticket goods drop by 3.1 percent in November, the largest decline in more than a year, raising new questions about how firm a grip manufacturers have on their own fragile recovery.

The drop reported by the Commerce Department Wednesday in orders for "durable goods" - costly manufactured items expected to last at least three years - came after a brisk 4 percent advance in October and a solid 2.2 percent increase in September.

The 3.1 percent decrease was the first decline since August and the largest since September 2002, when durable-goods orders fell by 6 percent.

The performance in November was considerably weaker than economists were expecting. They were forecasting a 0.6 percent rise.


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