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The death toll from a powerful earthquake in central Italy was revised downwards to 241 Thursday but officials cautioned it could rise again as rescuers continued a grim search for corpses, as powerful aftershocks rocked the devastated area. As rescuers sifted through the rubble, questions mounted as to why there had been so many deaths in a thinly-populated area so soon after a 2009 earthquake in the nearby city of L'Aquila left 300 people dead. In Amatrice a 4.3 magnitude aftershock shook the already badly damaged village on Thursday, fueling fears of fresh collapses which could hamper the rescue operation.
New orders for U.S. manufactured capital goods rose for a second straight month in July as demand for machinery and a range of other products picked up, offering a tentative sign that a business spending downturn was starting to ease. The economic outlook also was boosted by another report on Thursday showing an unexpected drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, indicating sustained labor market strength. Together, the data support the view that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.