Orders for manufactured goods took a steep dive last month, the biggest decline in more than two years. This marks the third straight month of declines, the worst performance since the first Dubya Recession of 2001. Although analysts predicted a 0.3% increase in March, orders fell by 2.8%.
It gets worse: February’s numbers were revised from the initially reported +0.3% down to -0.2%. Watch the Dow drop accordingly today.
The AP tells the tale.
Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods plunged 2.8 percent in March, the biggest setback in 2.5 years and the third straight decline, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The March drop, showing much more weakness than had been expected, followed declines of 0.2 percent in February and 1.2 percent in January.
The weakness in durable goods orders was just the latest evidence that the economy may be entering another “soft patch” as consumers and businesses, jolted by a sharp increase in energy prices, cut back on their purchases.
The 2.8 percent drop in overall orders was the biggest decline since a 6 percent plunge in September 2002. It was a far worse performance than analysts had expected. They had been forecasting that orders would rise by a modest 0.3 percent after an originally reported increase of 0.5 percent in February. In the new report, the February increase was revised away to now show a decine of 0.2 percent.
The three straight declines in new orders was the longest stretch of weakness since three straight declines from July through September 2001, a period that covered the last recession.