New orders for durable goods orders plunged in March as commercial aircraft and vehicle orders slid because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-13), the U.S. Commerce Department said today.
Orders declined 14 percent to $213.2 billion. The dip followed three consecutive monthly increases. The only larger monthly decrease was 18 percent in August 2014, according to MarketWatch.
Excluding transportation, new orders only fell 0.2 percent. Excluding defense, new orders plunged 16 percent.
Transportation equipment paced the monthly decline, falling 41 percent to $51.2 billion. The sector has been down two of the past three months.
Both aerospace and automotive have seen plant shutdowns because of COVID-19. Boeing Co. moved this month to resume limited production of aircraft. Airlines have cut flights as travel has fallen off because of COVID-19.
Automakers have shut down North American factories amid the coronavirus outbreak. The United Auto Workers union, which represents workers at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and FCA US, said April 23 it opposes plans to restart production in early May. It cited safety concerns because of COVID-19.
Within other categories, orders for primary metals declined 2.5 percent to $19.4 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products fell 0.5 percent to $32.9 billion. Orders for machinery slipped 0.2 percent to $32.2 billion.
The Commerce Department report is based on a survey of about 3,100 companies.