Weak demand for autos and aircraft pulled orders to factories down 2.3% in April, leaving orders for the year 2% below last year, the Commerce Department said Thursday in a report showing further evidence of a slow manufacturing economy.
"Basically, it shows the manufacturing sector is still dead in the water," said Evelina Tainer, senior domestic economist with the First National Bank of Chicago. "It's just not going anywhere."
The Commerce Department said orders to factories for durable and non-durable manufactured goods totaled a seasonally adjusted $235.6 billion. That followed gains of 4% in March and 1.8% in February.
Despite the gains, the April decline and a 5.5% drop in January means factory orders have fallen 2% in the year's first four months. The department said orders have been relatively flat since the beginning of 1989.
Factory orders are an important barometer of manufacturing industry plans for production.