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Durable Goods Orders Fall, Manufacturing Growth Slowing

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 5:05am

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks traded in a tight range Wednesday after another disappointing economic report added to investors' doubts about the recovery.

The Commerce Department's durable goods orders report for June indicated manufacturing growth is slowing. Orders for goods expected to last at least three years fell 1 percent last month, well short of the 1 percent gain that economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast.

Orders dipped 0.6 percent when the volatile transportation sector was excluded. Economists had expected a small gain.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose less than 1 point in morning trading.

Investors have been trying in recent weeks to balance strong earnings and corporate outlooks with economic data that isn't as strong as forecasts from companies. A drop in consumer confidence that was larger than expected Tuesday helped push stocks mostly lower although there was another batch of strong earnings.

Economic reports have generally shown that the recovery is slowing and growth will remain weak. The Federal Reserve releases its report known as the beige book report later Wednesday. It assesses the state of the economy by region and will be closely watched for signs of a rebound.

The beige book is especially important after cautious words from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke last week led to a sell-off in stocks. He called future growth "uncertain," which worried investors who look to Bernanke for reassurances that a rebound is under way.

In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.08, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,537.77. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.67, or 0.1 percent, to 1,113.17, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.20, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,288.45.

The Dow's four-day winning streak is in jeopardy. It eked out a 12 point advance Tuesday thanks to strong earnings from chemical maker DuPont Co., a component of the index. Broader indicators all dipped after another disappointing report showed consumer confidence is weakening.

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