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US durable goods orders rose in February, led by aircraft

Greater demand for commercial aircraft helped U.S. businesses increased their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in February, but a key category that tracks business investment plans slipped slightly.

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose 1.7 percent in February and an upwardly revised 2.3 percent in January. Orders so far this year are running 1.6 percent higher than in the first two months of 2016. But demand in a category that excludes aircraft and military goods — and reflects business investment plans — dipped 0.1 percent.

Orders for commercial aircraft saw a 47.6 percent jump in February. Orders also rose for primary metals. But demand for motor vehicles slumped.

Manufacturers are recovering from a rough patch that began in 2015 as oil prices fell and the dollar strengthened.