Factory orders slipped 0.4 percent in November, the first drop in three months, as demand for electronic equipment eased after surging the previous month.
Orders for both durable and nondurable goods totaled a seasonally adjusted $320.5 billion, down from $321.9 billion in October, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.The drop was the first since orders fell 2.1 percent in August. Orders are considered a key gauge of the nation's manufacturing strength. Continued declines could result in decreased production and fewer jobs.
Analysts had expected a 1 percent decline after the government reported last week a drop in demand for durable goods - items such as appliances and automobiles expected to last more than three years.
Indeed, the 1.1 percent jump in orders in October was due largely to a huge 17.2 percent jump for electronic and other electrical equipment.
That component, which includes telephones and computer chips, slipped 9.1 percent in November. Analysts had said the big October gain could not be sustained.
The drop in orders contrasted with other recent economic data suggesting the economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter.