New orders for manufactured durable goods fell by 4.8% in April, a much steeper decline than expected.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that April orders fell by $10.5 billion to a seasonally adjusted $210.2 billion. April’s setback was the largest decline in three months, and was led by a sharp pullback in demand for commercial aircraft, which fell by 32.2%, after robust demand in the previous two months. Demand for computers and other electronic products, meanwhile, fell by 10.4%, the biggest drop in that category since July 2000.
Wall Street analysts had been looking for an overall decline in durable goods orders of just 0.5%. The data are notoriously volatile, and the report from Commerce comes on the heels of the latest numbers from the Institute for Supply Management, which said earlier this month that its manufacturing index rose to 57.3 in April, the highest reading in six months. The outlook for U.S. manufacturers is generally seen as favorable, as businesses continue to invest heavily and demand from emerging economies remains strong.