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Recovery slow as jobless claims spike and durable goods orders falter

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Jobless claims rose last week while shipments and new orders of durable goods showed weakness in January as the economy struggles to recover.

Excluding transportation equipment, new orders for manufactured durable goods slipped 0.6% in January, to nearly $131 billion, after increasing 2% the month before, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Excluding lagging new defense orders, January orders increased 1.6%.

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Transportation equipment was a bright spot, increasing 15.6% to $44.8 billion, led by orders for non-defense aircraft and parts.

Overall, new orders rose 3% to $175.7 billion. Shipments fell, however, after four consecutive increases (including a 2.4% rise in December); they slid 0.2% to $180.7 billion in January.

In this category, transportation equipment performed poorly, plunging 3.5% to $44.6 billion after two previous increases.

Inventories remained relatively even in January at $302.6 billion after falling steadily over the past 13 months. But stockpiles of computers and electronics plunged 1.2% to $42.9 billion.

In a report from the Labor Department, the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits rose 22,000 claims last week, to 496,000 from 474,000.

But California saw the deepest decrease in the number of claims, with 5,540 fewer filings after layoffs eased in the service industry for the week ending Feb. 13.

Kentucky had the sharpest jump, with 2,510 more claims after auto industry and manufacturing job cuts.

-- Tiffany Hsu


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