(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) Demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods dropped by the most in three years in March and a gauge of business spending plans fell, suggesting factory activity lost momentum as the first quarter ended, a government report showed on Wednesday.
Durable goods orders fell 4.2 percent, the largest decline since January 2009, the Commerce Department said after a downwardly revised 1.9 percent increase in February. Economists had forecast orders for durable goods, which range from toasters to aircraft, falling 1.7 percent after a previously reported 2.4 percent rise in February.
Orders were dragged down by a 12.5 percent plunge in bookings for transportation equipment-the most since November 2010. Excluding transportation, orders fell 1.1 percent after a 1.9 percent rise in February. Economists had forecast this category rising 0.5 percent.
The report added to signs that manufacturing exited the first quarter with less momentum. Data last week showed industrial production was flat in March for a second consecutive month, while some gauges of regional factory activity weakened in April.