Durable Goods Orders Unexpectedly Drop

New orders for long-lasting manufactured goods unexpectedly fell in February after a strong showing in January, a government report showed on Thursday, hinting at decelerating manufacturing activity.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell 0.9 percent after an upwardly revised 3.6 percent increase in January. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.1 percent increase after January's rise, which was initially reported at 2.7 percent.

Excluding transportation, durable goods orders fell 0.6 percent after a revised 3.0 percent fall in January. Economists had expected this category to rise 2.0 percent .

Orders in the volatile transportation sector, which includes autos and aircraft, fell 1.9 percent in January after a massive 29.6 percent rise in January, which analysts said likely captured some year-end orders from aircraft maker Boeing

Outside of transportation, February orders for primary metals fell 2.1 percent, while machinery orders were down 4.2 percent. Capital goods orders declined 1.3 percent.

The Commerce Department report showed non-defense capital goods order excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending fell 1.3 percent in February after a 6.0 percent fall the prior month. Economists had predicted a 4.5 percent improvement in this category.