Capital goods orders unexpectedly fell 0.8% in April, according to an advance report from the Commerce Department.
It was the third straight month of a decline.
New orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, or core capital goods, fell 0.8%. Economists had forecast a 0.3% gain. Shipments in the same category rose 0.3% (0.1% estimated).
“The sharp drop in core capital orders activity in April, along with the downwardly revised performance the month before, suggests a weaker backdrop for business capital investment activity this quarter,” said TD Securities’ Millan Mulraine in a note.
“As such, we continue to expect this segment of the US economy to remain a source of drag on economic activity this quarter.”
Overall, durable goods orders, for long-lasting things like dishwashers and staircase railings, rose 3.4% in April. Economists had forecast a gain by 0.5%.
The headline was boosted by a surge in transportation orders. Excluding this category, orders rose 0.4%.
The headline gain in March was revised to 1.9% from 0.8%.