Orders have fallen in three of the past four months, perhaps a sign that the manufacturing sector has cooled off a bit. Yet economists also believe harsh winter weather is part of reason and some think demand will pick up as the spring approaches.
Economists had expected orders to fall 2.5% in the first month of the new year.
In January, aircraft orders sank 20.2%. Boeing received just 38 orders for new planes in January, down from 319 in the final month of 2013. The company usually takes in a bunch of orders at the end of one year and books a lot fewer at the start of the next.Auto orders, meanwhile, dropped 2.2%.
Stripping out the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 1.1%, the Commerce Department said . Military orders snapped back in a big way after a sharp decline in December.
Yet bookings fell in virtually every other major category. Orders fell 6.7% for computers, 2.1% for electrical equipment and appliances, 1.8% for primary metals and 0.4% for machinery
In one good sign, orders for core capital goods — a stand-in for business investment — jumped 1.7% after falling by a similar amount in December.
Yet shipments of core capital goods, a category used to calculate quarterly economic growth, dropped 0.8% in January. That’s evidence first-quarter growth is likely to be weak.
What’s more, orders for December were revised down to show a 5.3% decline instead of 4.2% as previously reported.