New orders for durable goods in the United States dropped in September for the third time in four months, with a fall in aircraft sales pulling down the otherwise firm growth, government data showed Wednesday. New durable goods orders were down 0.8 percent from August to $200.3 billion, the Commerce Department said in its monthly report. Excluding the aeronautics-dominated transportation sector, new orders rose 1.7 percent in the month. Overall, durable goods orders were up 9.4 percent year-on-year in September, a healthy but not outstanding figure. Economists said it was a sign that the manufacturing economy continues to grow despite consumer and business sentiment surveys that suggest otherwise. Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, said it was \"yet more evidence that the sharp drop in business confidence in recent months is sending a misleadingly weak signal about the pace of growth.\" \"Companies did not like the debt ceiling mess, the downgrade and now the Euro-chaos, but they are cash-rich and competitive pressures are forcing them to spend,\" he said.