The US Federal Trade Commission reports that orders for durable goods (those intended to last three or more years) excluding transportation items fell 0.6% during November - the third consecutive month to record a downward trend.

Duable goods are seen as a key indicator of US economic health, and economists had forecast orders outside transportation to climb 1%. However, if non-military aircraft sales are factored into the data, the overall figure increases to plus 4.4%.

Another closely-watched economic indicator is the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment.

In the final December measure this reportedly rose to 91.5 from November's 81.6. But there appears to be little cause for euphoria, the year-on-year figure being 5.6 points below that of December 2004 (97.1).

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff