Two important measures of economic performance showed only moderate gains in their latest reporting periods, according to government and industry statistics released yesterday.

New factory orders for durable goods an indicator of futures production, rose just 0.6 per cent on a seasonally-adjusted basis, in September, the Commerce Department reported.

And the nation's four auto makers reported a 17 per cent rise in new car sales for the mid-October sales period.

The Commerce Department said nearly all the increase in durable orders was due to growing demand for airplanes and ships. Durable goods rose a revised 4 per cent in August affter falling 4 per cent in July.

New orders for goods in industries other than transportation showed 0.7 per cent decline, the department said. Orders for nondefense capital goods, a figure used to forecast future spending for plant and equipment, climbed 6 per cent, the largest increase in that category since December.

Overall, durable orders increased by $400 million to a seasonally adjusted $58.62 billion compared with $58.27 billion in August.

The 17 per cent increase inauto sales, compared with last year's strike-depressed figures, did not satisfy Wall Street analysts who had expected a more dramatic increase. Auto issues came under pressure in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Auto makers reported delivering 291.658 units between Oct. 12 and 20 compared with 249.911 for the same period a year ago, when Ford Motor Co. was in the throes of a United Auto Workers strike.

The daily sales rate was 32,406 against 27,768 a year ago. There were nine selling days in each period.