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Blow for US factories

ORDERS for long-lasting US factory goods fell sharply last month as demand for commercial aircraft plummeted and businesses spent less on computers and electrical equipment.

The US Commerce Department said orders for durable goods plunged 7.3pc in July, the steepest drop in nearly a year. Excluding the volatile transportation category, orders fell just 0.6pc.

Both declines followed three monthly increases in a row.