Factories orders fell in February for the fourth time in five months.
The numbers: Factory orders in the U.S. fell in February for the fourth time in five months, reflecting a slowdown in the economy that began late in 2018 and carried on through the early part of the new year
Orders dropped 0.5% in the month, the government said Monday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.4% decline.
There are some signs that business might be re-accelerating as spring gets underway, but more evidence is needed.
What happened: Orders for durable goods — products meant to last at least three years — fell by an unrevised 1.6% in February. These products include autos, airplanes, appliances, computers and the like.
Orders for nondurable goods such as clothes, paper and processed foods rose 0.6%. They account for about half of all factory orders.
A closely followed gauge of business investment — known as core orders for durable goods — fell slightly. They’ve fallen three of the past four months.
Big picture: Manufacturers are still expanding, but they’ve turned more cautious since last summer. U.S. trade tensions with China, a weaker global economy and stronger dollar have combined to dampen demand and force businesses to reevaluate their plans.
The manufacturing segment is still influential enough to act as a drag on growth, but the service side of the economy is much larger and it’s expanding a bit faster. The U.S. is still on track to set a record for largest expansion ever by early summer.
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.18% rose a tick to 2.5%. Yet yields are still much lower compared to late last year, when they hit a seven-year high of 3.23%.