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New orders to US factories surged in January for the second consecutive month, the Commerce Department said. Orders increased 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $349.6 billion following an even stronger 2.3 percent increase in December, perhaps signaling the start of a rebound for manufacturing after a year of struggling with fallout from Asia's economic crisis. There were weaker increases during five of the six months before December.

Dell Computer said it will buy $16 billion worth of IBM equipment as part of a new seven-year agreement. The deal initially calls for Dell to purchase disk drives, flat-panel displays, and memory chips. But the companies said they expect it to develop into a closer partnership, including joint development of new computer technology.

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