Orders for manufactured goods fell a sharp 1% in July, the Commerce Department said Friday.
Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal were expecting a 0.2% increase.
This is the first decline after nine straight gains. Orders rose 1.8% in June.
The factory sector, which led the economy’s recovery from the pandemic, has started to struggle.
According to the updated data, durable-goods orders fell 0.1% in July, revised down slightly from the initial estimate of a flat reading.
Orders for nondurable goods were down 1.9% in the month. That’s the biggest drop since the economy was shut down in April 2020 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, it is the weakest reading since November 2018.
Most of the drop was due to a decline in orders in the petroleum sector. Excluding that category, nondurable orders were down just 0.3%.
Orders for nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft, rose a revised 0.3% in July, down slightly from the prior reading of a 0.4% gain.