Signs of strength in US

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Signs that the US economy is continuing to grow came from a sharper- than-expected rise in factory orders in December and a rebound in manufacturing activity measured by the Philadelphia index. Manufacturing orders increased by 1.3 per cent after a fall of 0.1 per cent in November.

The Philadelphia Fed said its general index of industrial activity rose to 3.8 in February following a reading of -16.6 in January. However, weekly jobless claims rose for the first time in three weeks. Claims rose by 21,000, double the increase expected in the market.