Durable goods orders fell a sharp 5.7% in March, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday. The collapse was the sharpest decline since August 2012. Economists had expected a more modest pull back, with a consensus estimate of a 3% decline in the important measure.
Durable goods are those expected to last more than three years, including aircraft, automobiles, heavy equipment, etc. The steep decline indicates a sharp reversal in business investment. It also suggests that the economy slowed down considerably as the 1st Quarter ended.
The Commerce Department also revised down February’s durable goods orders increase. Commerce originally reported that durable goods orders increased 5.6% in the month. That increase was revised down to a 4.3% gain.