New orders for U.S.-made goods recorded their biggest drop in more than a year in October and business spending on equipment appeared to be softening, suggesting a slowdown in activity in the manufacturing sector.
Factory goods orders fell 2.1 percent amid a decline in demand for a range of goods, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was the largest decrease in orders since July 2017. Data for September was revised lower to show factory orders rising only 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.7 percent increase.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders declining 2.0 percent in October. Orders increased 8.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in October.
An Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers published on Monday showed an improvement in business conditions in November. Manufacturers across nearly all industries, however, complained that worker shortages and the Trump administration's import tariffs were disrupting operations.
In October, orders for transportation equipment tumbled 12 percent, the biggest drop since October 2017, reflecting a 59.3 percent plunge in orders for defense aircraft and parts. Transportation equipment orders rose 0.9 percent in September.