Orders at U.S. factories rose slightly in March, the latest sign the economy cooled in the first quarter.
Orders for manufactured goods increased 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted $478.19 billion in March, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.4% rise.
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Orders in February were revised to an increase of 1.2% from an initial estimate of a 1% increase.
One big factor behind March's decline was a 1.7% drop in orders for cars, the biggest decline since August 2014. Auto sales declined earlier this year and some car companies are attempting to reduce inventories.
But orders fell more broadly. Excluding transportation, orders were down 0.3%. Excluding defense, another volatile category, orders fell 0.2%.
A closely watched gauge of business investment, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, increased 0.5% in March.
The Commerce Department report on factory orders can be accessed at http://www.census.gov/manufacturing/m3
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 04, 2017 10:27 ET (14:27 GMT)