Orders for durable U.S. goods plunged 3.4% in December, the fourth decline in the past five months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The decline was well below expectations. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected durable-goods orders to rise 0.1%. Adding to the sense of weakness, durable-goods orders for November were revised to show a 2.1% decline instead of a drop of 0.9%. Transportation led the decline in December, dropping 9.2%. Orders for core capital goods - a measure of business investment - fell 0.6% in December for the second straight month. Shipments of core capital goods, a category used to calculate quarterly economic growth, slipped 0.2% in December.
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