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Boeing sets industry record for 2014 deliveries

Workers at South Carolina Boeing work on a 787 Dreamliner for Air India at the plant's final assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina, in this file photo taken December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

(Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Tuesday that it delivered 723 jetliners in 2014, setting an industry record and retaining its title as the world's biggest plane maker in 2014, besting rival Airbus Group (AIR.PA).

Boeing also set company records for orders, booking 1,550 gross orders and 1,432 net orders, which account for cancellations, in 2014.

The company's net orders, while up nearly 6 percent from 2013, probably will not knock Airbus out of the top spot for booking new business. Boeing's gross orders rose about 1 percent from 2013.

Boeing's 2014 orders set Airbus a challenge in avoiding being beaten on that front, too. Analysts say it is too early to say which manufacturer will actually win, as Airbus strives to confirm hundreds of provisional orders ahead of its annual news conference on Jan. 13.

Airbus is expecting "one of the best years ever" in orders, according to a source at the European plane maker, speaking earlier on Tuesday. In 2013, the company booked 1,619 gross orders and 1,503 net orders.

For the fourth quarter, Boeing said it delivered 195 commercial airplanes, including 126 of its 737 jets, 24 of its 777s and 35 of 787s.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Rohit T. K. in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Lisa Von Ahn)