WASHINGTON -- New orders for manufactured goods plunged in March, mainly due to a steep decline in transportation orders, government data released Friday showed.
The Commerce Department reported a 4% drop in factory orders from February, when orders had climbed 1.9%.
The March reading was well below the 2.5% decline expected by most analysts.
Excluding transportation, factory orders fell 2% in March.
Commercial aircraft orders, which tend to be volatile month-on-month, dived 48.3%.
Defense communications equipment orders posted the steepest decline, down 84.3%, followed by machinery orders for mining and oil and gas fields, down 31.3%.
On a 12-month basis, March orders were 0.2% lower.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013