America’s immediate economic outlook remains uncertain, with the release of several positive reports that defy recent pessimism.

According to the Commerce Department, orders for durable goods (those built to last over three years) dropped 0.6% in August to $178.4 billion (€182.6bn; £114.8bn). Despite the fall, which followed an 8.6% surge in July, the news was welcomed analysts who had feared a far steeper slump.

Encouragingly, orders excluding the defence sector – generally taken as an indication of business investment – rose 0.6%, the second consecutive monthly increase.

Also, new-home sales jumped 1.9% in August to a new high of 996,000, according to the Census Bureau, though this surge is tempered by separate figures that show sales of existing homes dropped 1.7% from July.

Finally, the Labor Department revealed that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit dropped 24,000 the week before last to 406,000, the lowest count for over a month.

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