The US economy should start the fourth quarter with solid momentum, official data yesterday suggested. Orders for durable goods, excluding transportation items, rose a stronger-than-expected 1.7 per cent last month after falling 0.4 per cent in August. The gain was the largest since March. A second report showed that new home sales increased 5.7 per cent. But the median price for a new home fell 3.1 per cent to $204,400 last month, down 10.4 per cent from a year earlier.