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Economists wrong? Naah.

Except this time. Their consensus estimate of a 0.5% increase in November durable goods sales was a far cry from the 1.6% drop that the

Commerce Department

actually reported Friday. Leading the decline was electrical machinery, falling 9.3% after having risen dramatically in the previous month. But it was the decline in aircraft orders that threw analysts for a loop. "Aircraft is a guessing game--there seems to be orders that haven't been calculated," says Donald Fine, an economist with

Chase Asset Management

.

The surprising news was an excuse for a rally; yields for the benchmark 30-year Treasury bill fell to 6.53% by early afternoon.

Jobless claims fell 15,000 to 335,000--below the 6,000 drop analysts had been expecting.

Monday's numbers:

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Existing Home Sales

(10:00 AM EST): The November reading is expected at around 4 million, slightly up from the 3.97 million lived-in homes that were sold in October. This would be the first time in six months that the report showed an increase. Many economists, however, will be waiting for

New Home Sales

, which comes out on Tuesday, for a better gauge of GDP growth.

Farm Prices

(3:00 PM EST): Analysts are expecting farm prices to fall 1.8% in December after having dropped by the same margin in November. Tilling the soil is just not what it used to be.

Treasury Auction

(1:00 PM EST): For investors who think equities are passT, the government will be offering its Monday special: $26 billion worth of 3- and 6- month T-bills.

By Avi Stieglitz