Durable goods orders
) had a suprisingly steep drop in October, the Commerce Department reported this morning. It was their biggest fall in three months.
A steep drop in aircraft orders was largely responsible for the poor overall showing. Still, the data provide additional evidence that the pace of economic growth is slowing.
"It is important to note that this report is a volatile one and is known for its wide month-to-month swings, however, the data overall suggest a degree of slowdown of momentum within the factory sector,"
economist Henry Willmore wrote in a research note.
Orders for durable goods -- goods intended to last three or more years, such as cars and appliances -- fell 5.5% to $209.9 billion in October, their largest drop since a 13.2% drop in July. Economists polled by
had forecast a drop of 1.3%, on average.
The total was skewed by a 15.8% drop in orders for aircraft and other transportation equipment, to $44.9 billion. Excluding this notoriously volatile component, durable goods orders fell only 2.2%.
Still, the year-on-year growth rate of durable goods orders in October, 1.4%, was the slowest since November 1998.