A big drop in business spending on machinery and equipment helped pushed orders for long-lasting manufacturing goods down in January by the largest amount in three years.
The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods _ products that are expected to last at least three years _ fell 4 percent last month.
So-called core capital goods, which are viewed as a good measure of business investment plans, fell 4.5 percent, the biggest drop in a year. Demand for these goods hit an all-time high in December as companies rushed to take advantage of expiring tax breaks on purchases of capital goods.
In January, overall orders totaled $206.1 billion. That's 38.6 above the low hit during the recession. Orders are still 16 percent below their peak hit in December 2007.