Updated from 08:41 a.m.

Orders are up. Claims are down.

Those are the highlights of a spate of economic reports from the government Wednesday.

Orders for durable goods in October rose at their strongest pace in a year. The 3.3% gain was broad-based and much stronger than economists expected. Orders for September were revised sharply higher to 2.1%. Orders have now increased in five of the last six months, signaling sustainable growth.

On the labor front, weekly jobless claims remained below the critical 400,000-level for the eighth consecutive week, suggesting the labor market is on the mend

New claims for benefits for the week ended Nov. 22. were 351,000, the lowest in almost three years. That compares with expectations of 361,000. For the prior week, the number was revised to 362,000, from an original estimate of 355,000, according to government figures.

Job growth has been unusually weak in this economic recovery, but it has recently shown signs of a long-awaited spurt. The economy has created jobs in each of the past three months.

The positive figures Wednesday follow two other upbeat economic reports on Tuesday. Growth during the third quarter was revised upward to an 8.2% annualized rate, sharply higher than the original reading of 7.2%. And the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to 91.7 in November, with fewer than 5,000 of the people surveyed saying jobs were hard to find.