USA

President Bush signed legislation Thursday that authorizes building a fence along 700 miles of the 2,000-mile US-Mexican border. At the same time, he said that to reduce pressure on the border a guest-worker program is also needed.

On the strength of a 183.2 percent jump in demand for new commercial jetliners, orders for big-ticket manufactured goods from US factories rose 7.8 percent to $226.7 billion in September, the Commerce Department said Thursday. It was the largest monthly gain in more than six years and triple what Wall Street analysts had forecast. The increase follows two consecutive declines. In other economic news, new home sales rose 5.3 percent as builders slashed prices 9.3 percent to a median of $217,000.

The cost of building courtrooms and other infrastructure needed to conduct military trials for terrorism suspects at the military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could run into hundreds of millions of dollars, the Defense Department said Wednesday. The Pentagon expects to boost the number of detention centers there from one to 10.

The Federal Reserve is holding the line on interest rates, leaving the federal funds rate at 5.25 percent for the third straight time, it announced Wednesday. Many analysts believe the Fed will continue its stay-the-course posture as opposing forces buffet the economy.

At Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA launched twin unmanned spacecraft on a two-year mission Wednesday to study huge solar eruptions. Such flares can damage satellites, disrupt electrical and communications systems on Earth, and cause radiation hazards for spacewalking astronauts.

Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose using military action to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program, while 35 percent support military reprisals, according to Reuters/Zogby poll findings released Thursday.

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