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Durable Goods Orders Jump in Jan.

February 25, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ New orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket products surged 3.9 percent in January, the most in 14 months, fed by strong demand for autos and aircraft.

The Commerce Department said today that the January increase in demand for durable goods, items expected to last three or more years, followed a healthy 3.4 percent increase in December.

The January surge caught analysts by surprise. They had been projecting that new orders declined 0.1 percent in January following what they believed was an unsustainable jump in demand in December.

New orders are closely watched by economists as an early signal of what industrial output and manufacturing employment will do in the months ahead.

The two back-to-back sizable gains may call into question the prevailing view that the U.S. economy will slow this year as world financial troubles and a rising trade deficit create a sizable drag on what up until now has been strong domestic demand.

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