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Business

US factory orders unchanged in November

A boost in factory orders reflected firms’ investment plans for the year.

Nam Y. Huh /Associated Press

A boost in factory orders reflected firms’ investment plans for the year.

WASHINGTON — US companies boosted their orders in November for manufactured goods that reflect investment plans even though total orders were unchanged for the month.

Factory orders were flat in November, compared with October when orders had risen 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday.

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Durable goods rose 0.8 percent while nondurable goods fell 0.6 percent, reflecting falling petroleum prices.

Orders for core capital goods, a category considered a proxy for business investment plans, increased a solid 2.6 percent after a 3 percent rise in October, which had been the strongest gain in 10 months.

Factories appear to be recovering slowly from a slump earlier in the year although there are still concerns given a weak global economy that is restraining US exports.

The back-to-back increases in core capital goods followed a period of weakness that had raised concerns about business investment, a driving force in the economic rebound.

Analysts say companies will boost spending on computers and other equipment to expand and modernize now that Congress and President Obama have reached a deal on taxes that will remove uncertainty that had been weighing on business investment decisions.

The last-minute agreement signed by Obama Wednesday averts widespread tax increases and delays deep spending cuts that had threatened to push the country back into recession.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the July-September quarter, much better than the 1.3 percent pace in the April-June period.

But economists expect growth slowed in the final three months of last year, partly because of the uncertainties surrounding the fiscal cliff

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