WASHINGTON: New orders for U.S.-made goods unexpectedly fell in November amid sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment, government data showed on Monday, suggesting a slowdown in manufacturing as 2018 ended.
Factory goods orders fell 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department said, after an unrevised 2.1 percent drop in October.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders rising 0.2 percent in November. The release of the report was delayed by a recently ended five-week partial shutdown of the federal government.
A survey from the Institute for Supply Management published last Friday suggested manufacturing activity picked up at the start of the year, driven by a sharp rebound in orders in January. But some manufacturers continued to complain that tariffs on steel imports were pushing up prices of raw materials.
In November orders for machinery tumbled 1.7 percent after gaining 0.2 percent in October. There were large declines in orders for industrial and metalworking machinery, as well as ventilation, heating, air‐conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components dropped 1.1 percent after rising 1.0 percent in October. But orders for transportation equipment rebounded 3.0 percent after plunging 12.4 percent in October.
Orders for civilian aircraft and parts rose 6.9 percent in November. Motor vehicles and parts orders edged up 0.1 percent.
The Commerce Department also said November orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, dropped 0.6 percent as reported in December. Orders for these so-called core capital goods increased 0.5 percent in October.
Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, slipped 0.2 percent in November instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent dip.
Core capital goods shipments jumped 0.8 percent in October.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)