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US durable goods orders near flat in November

[NEW YORK] New orders for US durable goods were essentially flat in November, with increases in defence and autos offsetting declines for other goods, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday.

Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, said the data were "at least somewhat positive" but that US manufacturing remains challenged.

"The manufacturing sector still looks fairly weak - weaker than non-manufacturing, reflecting more exposure to declining exports, a plunge in oil-related investment and an inventory cycle," he said.

Orders for manufactured goods that typically last three years or longer rose by US$100 million to US$238.8 billion in November.

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That was the second straight month of higher overall orders, although the gain was far below the 2.9 per cent rise in October.

Transportation equipment orders, typically a volatile area, rose US$300 million in November to US$82.2 billion, with orders for defence aircraft jumping nearly 50 per cent to US$8.2 billion and orders for motor vehicle and parts up 1.5 per cent to US$52.4 billion.

Excluding defence, durable orders fell 1.5 per cent. Orders for machinery, computers and primary metal goods all fell.