New orders for big-ticket US manufactured goods fell for the second month in a row in May, recording their biggest drop in six months, the Commerce Department reported Monday.
The continued slowdown was largely driven by a second straight decline in sales of civilian aircraft, and could be a drag on the US economy.
Total orders for durable goods fell 1.1 percent to $228.2 billion, nearly twice the decline forecast by analysts. And April’s already-weak orders were revised down by two-tenths to show a 0.9 percent decline, according to the report.
However, for the year to date, sales are still up 2.8 percent over the same period last year.
The volatile transportation equipment categories were the biggest losers, with orders for civilian aircraft falling 11.7 percent last month and the smaller defense aircraft segment plunging 30.8 percent.
Excluding transportation, orders actually rose 0.1 percent, reversing some of the 0.5 percent decline recorded in April. This measure has risen in four of the past five months.
The capital goods sector, which has suffered in recent years due to the falling price of oil, saw sharp declines, with non-defense orders falling 2.4 percent.
Excluding aircraft, the measure’s weakness was less pronounced, with a decline of only 0.2 percent.
Orders of machinery, electrical equipment and motor vehicles were the bright spots, with the latter category rising 1.2 percent on top of April’s 0.5 percent gain.
But elsewhere there were other signs of slowing orders for the manufacturing sector. Sales of communications equipment fell 3.1 percent, reversing gains made in April.
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