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) -- While new orders for manufactured goods slipped in August, an uptick in orders for capital goods offers a glimmer of hope for improved economic conditions in the third quarter.

New orders for durable goods in August fell 0.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In July, orders soared by 4.1%.

The headline number slipped but capital goods orders increased 1.1% after decreasing by a revised 0.2% in the prior month. The capital goods number excludes aircraft orders and roughly gauges business spending.

"While these numbers are very volatile, the improvement in the core capital goods orders can still offer a glimmer of improvement for those looking for a silver-lining," writes David Semmens, U.S. Economist with Standard Chartered Bank, in a research note.

In July, durable goods orders saw an overall bump of 4%, thanks to a big order for


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, the parent of American Airlines. Excluding transportation, orders rose just 0.7% in the prior month.

Economists were expecting a large pull back in orders after July. However, orders excluding manufacturing have held up, suggesting that the economy is more resilient than expected. Barclays Capital said in a research note that that growth in equipment and software investment has been strong in the third quarter.

Not including transportation, orders slipped 0.1% after rising 0.7% in July. Durable goods not including the defense sector also slipped 0.1% in August following a 4.8% rise in the prior month.

"Throughout 2011, we expect business spending to be buoyed by the tax credit enacted in December 2010, which allows for full expensing of business capital investment," wrote Semmens before Wednesday's report. "We continue to see a fading of the ill effects of the Japanese earthquake in the auto sector, but expect the core number to gather momentum."

"While the third quarter is certainly not going to see substantial growth, we have yet further evidence that the U.S. economy was most certainly not in recession," according to a report by BTIG Economics. That is hardly worth celebrating but these days, we'll take what we can get."

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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