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Orders for long-lasting US goods climbed in January, but a closely-watched gauge of capital spending by American businesses slipped, according to data released on Monday.

Durable goods orders climbed by 1.8 per cent last month, the commerce department said, exceeding expectations of a 1.6 per cent rise. Excluding the volatile transportation component that can distort the reading, orders were down by 0.2 per cent, missing estimates of a 0.5 per cent increase.

Meanwhile, non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft — which is seen as a proxy for business investment in big-ticket items — dropped by 0.4 per cent. That represented the biggest fall since September, and came in well below estimates of a 0.5 per cent rise.

The mixed report underscores concerns of some investors that Wall Street may have gotten too optimistic in its outlook for the US economy, with American stock prices continually setting new highs this year.

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