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Orders for durable, long-lasting goods rise

Did you buy a car, computer or other item meant to last three years or more late last year?

If so, you likely helped boost the durable goods number tracked by the Department of Commerce. Orders for these goods were up 4.6% in December, the agency said Monday morning.

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That was a major increase over the 0.7% rise in November. It was also way ahead of the 2% rise forecast for December by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

“The strength in durable goods orders for December is a most welcome development,” said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst quoted in an Associated Press report.

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But some of the details behind the numbers were not so encouraging. One of the main reasons for the big boost in durable goods was a gain of 10% in orders for aircraft, which, of course, most people don’t buy.

Meanwhile, orders for computers and some other more consumer-oriented items grew far more modestly.

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Greenhaus said his firm expects business investment “to slow yet again in 2013. This is a trend that remains in place given the weaker demand environment.”

Wall Street seemed encouraged by the news, however, at least as markets opened in New York. The Dow industrial average jumped about 70 points soon after opening.

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But as the morning went on, the average dipped into minus territory, falling about 20 points under Friday’s close.

The Standard & Poors 500 was down slightly, still hovering around the 1,500 figure it hit last week.

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ALSO:

Economists see mediocre growth in 2013.

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IMF sees global growth improving in 2013.

Jobless claims barely change; durable goods orders plunge.

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