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Business

Industrial Orders Down Again

German industrial orders fell 2.6 percent in February from January, their second straight monthly decline, the German economics ministry reported Wednesday, citing seasonally corrected figures. Orders had slipped 3.5 percent in January from December. For February, analysts at UBS bank had expected a slight 0.2 percent monthly gain in industrial orders. Orders from within Germany fell 2.8 percent in February and those from abroad 2.3 percent. The government is banking on a gradual improvement in household spending on consumer goods, traditionally a weak point for the German economy, in order to meet its 2005 growth target of 1.6 percent, a goal that most economists say is unrealistic. In a separate report, the national statistics office said last week that retail sales were stable in March compared with February.

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