- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New orders for manufactured durable goods rose in May by 1.8 percent, the third increase in the past four months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

The increase — to $163.9 billion in factory orders — follows a 1.8 percent increase in April and exceeded analysts’ expectations.

Durable goods include automobiles, washing machines and other products expected to last more than three years.

However, the sale of new homes unexpectedly decreased in May, an indication the housing market continues to struggle in the recession that started in December 2007.

New home sales decreased by 0.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 342,000, compared to 344,000 in April.

The median sales price of $221,600 was 3.4 percent less than a year ago but up 4.2 percent from April.

The reports precedes the Federal Reserve’s expected announcement Wednesday afternoon on whether to increase interest rates.

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