WASHINGTON - New orders for manufactured goods fell $2.9 billion or 0.6% to $466.0 billion in April, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

The April decrease, the third in four months, followed a revised decline of 2.1% in March, originally reported as a 1.5% slip. The decrease in orders was in sharp contrast to the median 0.2% gain predicted by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

Driving the decline in new orders were drops in orders for machinery, which fell 2.9%, and defense capital goods, which plummeted 21.5%. Excluding transportation, new orders fell by 1.1%, following a 0.7% decline a month earlier. Excluding defense, they decreased 0.2%.

Shipments, down after four straight increases, fell $1.5 billion or 0.3% to $473.2 billion in April, following a 0.1% increase in March.

Unfilled orders fell for the fist time in 28 months, declining $800 million or 0.1% to $985.4 billion. That followed a slight increase in March.

Inventories, up 22 of the last 23 months, increased slightly to $607.2 billion in April, after rising slightly the previous month. The April inventory level is the highest since the data was first published on an NAICS basis in 1992.


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