New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods fell in February as the sector continues to struggle with the lingering effects of a strong dollar and lower oil prices.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more, declined 2.8 percent last month after a downwardly revised 4.2 percent increase in January.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, decreased 1.8 percent after advancing by a downwardly revised 3.1 percent in January. These so-called core capital goods orders were previously reported to have increased 3.4 percent in January.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast durable goods orders falling 2.9 percent last month and orders for core capital goods slipping 0.1 percent.
The drop in durable goods orders last month bucks recent data that have suggested the downward spiral in manufacturing was close to an end. Several reports in recent days have shown a pick-up in regional factory activity in March, leading to optimism that a broader manufacturing survey will show the sector expanded this month for the first time since September.