U.S. orders for durable goods fell a steeper-than-expected 7.3% in July, led by the volatile transportation sector. But even excluding that factor, orders were down 0.6%, leading to fears of a subdued economy in the third quarter. "Such activity points to a defensive mentality on capital spending, doing only what is necessary to maintain the current level of growth but not operating with the type of aggressive entrepreneurial mentality that often underlies strong periods," said Cliff Waldman, senior economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

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