There's been quite a bit of chatter this spring about a rebound in the manufacturing sector. Whether those predictions will hold up is looking less and less certain as new orders tumble.
Demand for factory-made goods has fallen three of the past four months, sliding an unexpected 0.6%, or $2.9 billion, in April. The measure had tanked 2.1% in March, marking the first back-to-back declines in more than three years.
Machinery orders plunged 2.9%; requests for cars, computers and electrical equipment also fell, according to the Commerce Department. Demand for non-durable goods – items designed to last less than three years – dipped 1.1%. Shipments are down for the fourth month in a row; unfilled orders and inventories rose.
"It's always going to be a bit touch-and-go when we're talking about the global economic recovery," said Bob McCutcheon, U.S. Industrial Products leader for PwC. "Europe, China, those could have a short-term effect on growth at any given time."
In recent years, the sector has "seen a relatively strong spring only to follow up with a slowdown," he said.
"But long term, we are starting to see positive signs of a resurgence in domestic manufacturing," he added.