Durable goods orders slid 3.7% in January as orders for aircraft nosedived. It was the first decline after two monthly gains.
Orders totaled $239.7 billion, down from a revised $248.9 billion in December, the US Commerce Department said in a monthly report.
Excluding transportation, new orders fell 0.3%, the department said. Excluding defense, new orders declined 2.7%.
The general transportation equipment category plunged 10% to $77.7 billion. Leading the drop was a 28% drop in commercial aircraft and parts to $10.4 billion and a 46% slide in defense aircraft and parts to $2.76 billion.
Motorized vehicles and parts, also part of the transportation category, posted a modest 0.1% gain to $56.4 billion.
For more than six months, aircraft — mainly commercial aircraft — has told the tale in the monthly durable goods report. When commercial aircraft orders saw large monthly gains, total durable goods orders rose. When the aircraft orders dipped, so did the total durable goods figure.
That pattern may continue this year. Boeing Co. (Chicago) last month forecast commercial aircraft deliveries of 810 to 815 in 2018, up from 763 in 2017.
Among other categories, orders for fabricated metal products rose 0.5% to $34.2 billion. Orders for primary metals declined 0.9% to $20.8 billion and orders for machinery fell 0.4% to $32.9 billion.