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US factory orders remain flat in November

– U.S. 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. Durable goods, everything from autos to steel, 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 that 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 U.S. 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 believe that companies will boost spending further 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 approved by Congress and signed by by Obama averts widespread tax increases and delays deep spending cuts that had threatened to push the country back into recession.

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