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American factory orders hit two-year low

As the U.S. economy continues to weaken, U.S. factory orders fell almost 4 percent in January to their lowest level since 1999, driven down by weak demand for new aircraft, the Commerce Department reported.

Driven by slowing auto sales and a weak Christmas shopping season, it was the first decline in factory orders since October of last year.

The value of new factory orders dropped off by 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted level of $366.5 billion, more than offsetting a modest 0.6 percent increase in December. And even that skimpy December gain was revised downward from an earlier estimate of a 1.1 percent increase.

Excluding the highly volatile transportation sector, which includes aircraft orders and is subject to wide fluctuation, January factory orders continued a recent slide, falling by 0.3 percent after a 1.1 percent decline in December.

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