New orders for manufactured durable goods fell in April as aircraft orders shrank nearly a third from March, official data showed on Wednesday.
Orders for durable goods – big-ticket items such as planes, computers and autos that are expected to last at least three years – dropped 3.6 percent from March, the Commerce Department said.
Excluding transportation, new orders were down 1.5 percent from March. Excluding defence, they were 3.6 percent lower.
The decline was more than a percentage point bigger than expected by most analysts.
The Commerce Department revised the March increase in orders to a 4.4 percent rise.
On a 12-month basis, durable goods orders were up 4.0 percent from April 2010.
Last month’s reading was weighed down by the volatile transportation sector, where airplane orders can fluctuate widely from month to month.
In April, orders for commercial aircraft plunged 30.0 percent from March, while defence aircraft orders fell 8.9 percent.
Manufacturing, a key driver of the US economic recovery from recession, has shown signs of losing steam in recent months.
“The mitigating factor with the weak April report is that it followed a very strong March report,” said Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com.
“In this light then, it is premature to label the April disappointment as a true sign of things to come.”