Demand for U.S. manufactured goods dropped by the most in three years in March, driven lower by a sharp fall in volatile orders for commercial aircraft. Still, more recent data suggest the decline may be temporary.
The Commerce Department says orders for factory goods fell 1.5 percent, the steepest decline since March 2009, when the economy was mired in recession. Orders rose 1.1 percent in February.
Aircraft orders plummeted nearly 50 percent. But excluding transportation goods, orders were unchanged. Demand for less durable items, such as food, chemicals and gasoline, rose 0.5 percent.
The report comes a day after a private survey found that the manufacturing sector expanded in April at the fastest pace in 10 months. That suggests orders rebounded last month.