Durable goods orders fell in October because of a plunge in commercial and defense aircraft orders.
Orders fell 1.2% to $236 billion, the US Commerce Department said in a report today. That was down from an adjusted $238.8 billion in September. The decline snapped a two-month streak of gains in durable goods orders.
Excluding transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose 0.4%, the department said. Excluding defense, orders declined 0.8%.
The overall transportation category slid 4.3% to $77.1 billion in October from $80.6 billion the month before.
Within transportation, orders for commercial aircraft and parts plunged 19% to $10.6 billion from almost $13 billion in September. Orders for defense aircraft nosedived 11% to $3.1 billion.
Commercial aircraft orders have been erratic during much of the year. When business it good, the industry has provided a lift. In August and September, commercial aircraft orders posted monthly gains of more than a third. When business is off, the sector drags down durable orders overall.
The one bright spot in transportation was orders for motorized vehicles and parts. That sector posted a 1.7% advance in October to $55.5 billion. US deliveries of light vehicles have remained strong this year, running slightly below record levels of 2015.
In other categories, new orders for machinery rose 0.6% to $32.2 billion. Orders for primary metals increased 1.3% to $20 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products declined 0.9% to $33 billion.