WASHINGTON — The latest U.S. durable goods orders report was mixed but showed signs of a stabilizing manufacturing sector.

February durable goods orders printed up 3.4%, their first gain in seven months, and were up 1.7% ex-military orders and up 3.9% ex-transportation — its biggest gain since August 2005. This is far better than expectations for a drop.

Boeing Corp. reported four new orders during the month, down from 18 in January, one reason nonmilitary aircraft dropped 28.9%. There were also pockets of weakness in primary metals at off 0.6%, communications equipment at down 5.9%, and motor vehicles at a 0.6% decrease.

But machinery orders advanced 13.5%, electronics gained 1.6%, and overall computers printed 5.6%, supporting the total. Military capital goods orders were up 35.3% in a rebound from minus-40.6% in January.

The bottom line is that this was a somewhat mixed report that shows only tentative signs of a bottoming.

— Market News International

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