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Published: Thursday, 8/27/2009

Durable goods orders, sales of new homes beat forecast


WASHINGTON - Orders for durable goods nationwide rose last month by the largest amount in two years, as the manufacturing sector rebounded from the depths of the recession.

The U.S. Commerce Department said yesterday that orders for goods expected to last at least three years increased 4.9 percent in July, the third rise in four months. Analysts expected a 3 percent increase. Orders for June were revised up to a 1.3 percent drop, from a 2.2 percent decline.

The housing front had more good news. New-home sales jumped 9.6 percent in July, a fourth straight monthly gain that beat analysts' expectations.

The Commerce Department said home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. But the median sales price of $210,100 was down 11.5 percent from $237,300 a year earlier.

The better-than-expected durable goods and housing data followed positive readings Tuesday about consumer sentiment and home prices. But analysts fret that spending will stay muted. Paul Ashworth, Capital Economics senior economist, wrote to clients: " With the consumer still supine, we don't yet have the foundations for a sustainable recovery."

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