NEW YORK Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods jumped unexpectedly in December, good news amid signs that the U.S. economy may be tipping toward a recession.
Still, analysts said the 5.2 percent growth in orders while potentially boosting industrial output in coming months likely came from overseas demand and that domestic growth faced continuing threats from tight credit and mortgage markets that have forced consumers to retrench.
The Conference Board report Tuesday that consumer confidence fell sharply in January on worries over deteriorating business conditions and a weakening job market gave another sign of consumer angst.
The New York-based business research group said that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 87.9 in January from a revised 90.6 in December. That put it back to about where it was in November, when it registered 87.8.
The January reading was just a tad below the 88 expected by Wall Street analysts, according to Thomson/IFR.