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Durables improve

In one more sign that the economy may be slowly righting itself, orders for durable goods improved by 1.0 percent in July, led by a big spike in demand for cars, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

Orders for durable goods — big-ticket items like cars and air conditioners that are designed to last three years or more — came in slightly ahead of expectations with a 0.9 percent increase, improving on an even bigger gain of 2.6 percent in June.

Driving the improvement was sharply increased demand for cars and parts, which surged ahead by 5.5 percent.

In other components of durable goods, machinery orders also put in a strong showing, improving by 1.8 percent. Orders for computers and electronic products climbed even higher, by 1.9 percent.

Excluding the transportation segment, everything from cars to aircraft, orders rose by 1.7 percent in July. And excluding defense spending, orders rose by 1.4 percent.

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