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DURABLE-GOODS ORDERS ROSE .9% IN MAY

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Orders to U.S. factories for durable goods rose a surprisingly robust 0.9 percent in May, the ninth increase in the last 10 months, the government said this week.

After inching up a mere 0.1 percent in April, orders for long-lasting products surged last month with aircraft and parts leading the way, the Commerce Department said.The May increase far exceeded the projections of most economists, who said in advance of the report they expected declining transportation production to be a drag on the indicator of manufacturing growth.

But the Commerce Department said orders for transportation equipment rose 2.2 percent in May to $36.5 billion, with the increase in aircraft more than offsetting declines for cars, trucks and railroad equipment.

The non-transportation component of the index was up for the 12th consecutive month, climbing 0.6 percent on top of a 0.6 percent rise in April. Economists said that matched the record of monthly increases from mid-1971 to mid-1972.

Orders for durable goods, including such items as computers and appliances, are a key measure of the strength of manufacturing. While the April figures suggested to some analysts that the economy was slowing, the latest data point to considerable strength in the second quarter, which ends June 30.