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DURABLES ORDERS DIP 5TH TIME IN 6 MONTHS

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods fell 1.7 percent in July, the fifth decline in six months, suggesting continued weakness in the slumping manufacturing sector.

The loss was due in large part to a 7.7 percent drop in transportation orders, mostly motor vehicles and parts. Excluding this category, orders edged up 0.1 percent.The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders totaled a seasonally adjusted $156.4 billion, down from a revised $159.1 billion a month earlier. The initial June estimate had been $159.4 billion.

Analysts had expected a 1 percent gain in July. Orders now have fallen every month since January, except for a 2.5 percent advance in May.