) -- Manufacturing took a hit as durable goods orders went south in August, surprising forecasters in the process, according to a report from the Commerce Department this morning.

On Friday, the Census Bureau said new orders fell by 2.4% in August from July, or $4 billion, to $164.4 billion. The slump marks the steepest fall since January and followed on the heels of a strong uptick in July that was revised to 4.8%. Previously, the feds reported that orders jumped by 5.1%.

A group of surveyed economists had originally forecast a 0.5% rise in durable goods orders, according to Thomson Reuters.

Excluding the particularly volatile defense category, new orders decreased by 2.4%.

The losses in the month extended across a cadre of industries, led by transportation orders, which saw a 9.3% slide. Planes and parts of the nondefense variety were the primary culprit, which slid by 42.2%, or $3.7 billion. New orders for cars and parts, though, went higher by 0.4%.

Still, after excluding the transportation sector, overall new orders were little changed from July to August.

Segments for primary metals, fabricated metal products and machinery also rose during the month, but were coupled with slides in computers and electrical equipment like appliances.

Shipments for durable goods also fell by 1.4%, while inventories dropped 1.3%.

Elsewhere and before the opening bell, several manufacturers like

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report



(HON) - Get Report



(DELL) - Get Report

were moving lower.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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