New orders for manufactured goods fell by 5.6 percent in January, the largest decline since the summer of 2000.
The pullback comes on the heels of December's 2.6-percent increase, and is the latest in a string of mixed to soft data for the manufacturing industry.
The government said shipments, after three consecutive monthly increases, fell by 1.2 percent, following a 1.3 percent December increase.
Unfilled orders, up 20 of the last 21 months, increased by 0.1 percent to $695 billion, the highest level since 1992. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 4.78, up from 4.71 in December. Inventories, down following 10 consecutive monthly increases, decreased $0.9 billion or 0.2 percent to $482.0 billion. This followed a 0.2 percent December increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.23, up from 1.22 in December.
By stage of fabrication, January materials and supplies increased 0.1 percent in durable goods and 0.1 percent in nondurable goods. Work in process increased 0.5 percent in durable goods and decreased 0.4 percent in nondurable goods, while finished goods decreased 0.2 percent in durable goods and 1.3 percent in nondurable goods.