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U.S. Economic News

Durable-goods orders fall 0.7% in October (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Orders for long-lasting U.S. goods fell 0.7% in October, largely because of weaker demand for commercial aircraft. Bookings for electrical equipment and computers also fell, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected orders to drop 1.5%. If the transportation sector is excluded, however, orders actually rose 0.7%. Bookings for transportation equipment, a particularly volatile category, sank 4.8% last month. Orders for commercial aircraft plunged 16.4%. Orders minus defense rose 0.2%. Orders for core capital goods, which excludes defense and transportation, fell 1.8% last month. Shipments of durable goods rose 1.3% to mark the fifth increase in the past six months.

Personal income up 0.4%, spending 0.1% in October (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Consumer spending rose a modest 0.1% last month, while personal incomes rose a faster 0.4%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast spending to rise by 0.3% and income by 0.2%. As a result, the personal savings rate rose to 3.5% of disposable income - the money leftover after paying taxes - from 3.3% in September. Inflation, meanwhile, fell 0.1% in October, putting its increase over the past 12 months at 2.7%. The core PCE, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.1%. The MarketWatch survey called for a 0.1% increase. Over the past year, core PCE inflation has risen a smaller 1.7%. In September, Americans boosted spending 0.7%, even though their incomes rose only 0.1%, revised data showed.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims rise 2,000 to 393,000 (by Ruth Mantell)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- New applications for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits ticked higher in latest weekly data, rising 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a level of 390,000 for the week ended Nov. 19. Claims for the prior week were revised to 391,000 from an earlier estimate of 388,000. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, a smoother gauge than the volatile weekly number, fell 3,250 to 394,250, reaching the lowest level since early April. Continuing claims rose 68,000 to 3.69 million in the week ended Nov. 12. The four-week average for these claims fell 2,250 to 3.67 million, the lowest level since October 2008. A total of 6.73 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Nov. 5, down 45,000 from the prior week.

November UMich consumer sentiment hits 64.1 (by Ruth Mantell)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- A gauge of consumer sentiment reached 64.1 in the final reading for November -- the highest reading since June -- compared with 60.9 in October, according to Wednesday reports on the data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. A preliminary reading for November pegged the gauge at 64.2. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a final November result of 65, with consumers somewhat cheered by lower gas prices, but concerned about stock volatility. The sentiment gauge, which covers how consumers view their personal finances as well as business and buying conditions, averaged about 87 in the year before the start of the most recent recession. Economists watch sentiment data to get a feel for the direction of consumer spending. A separate report from the government on Wednesday showed that personal consumption spending slowed down in October.