Orders for U.S. durable goods climbed in JanuaryOrders for U.S. durable goods increased in the first month of this year as demand for aircraft, among other items, rallied after falling in December. 

The Commerce Department said Thursday that after a 0.4 percent fall in December, bookings for goods meant to last at least three years climbed 2.7 percent in January. However, orders excluding transportation equipment fell unexpectedly in the first month of the year, perplexing analysts.

Nonetheless, U.S. manufacturers like Intel and Navistar International are projecting an uptick in demand for their goods in 2011 as businesses in the U.S. and abroad ratchet up their investment. Though manufacturing has a been a bright spot in the nascent U.S. economic recovery, persistent joblessness and a battered housing market have led the U.S. Federal Reserve to forge on with its bond-buying program, dubbed QE2.

John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets, told Bloomberg that manufacturing growth could continue in the coming months, albeit at a less brisk pace. "The manufacturing sector continues to be a main driver of the economy," he affirmed. "We see a more moderate period of growth" for factories and manufacturers in the coming months.

The U.S. Labor Department announced this week that applications for jobless benefits in the week ended February 19 fell by 22,000 to 391,000. 
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