WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories for manufactured goods dropped 0.3% in June, the fifth decline in the past six months, the government reported Thursday.
The Commerce Department said orders, which were held back by a steep decline in demand for defense equipment, totaled $191.5 billion, $586 million below the May level and 4.9% below their high of $201.2 billion in December.
Since December, orders have posted an increase only in April, a minuscule 0.1% advance that did little to offset weakness in other months. Orders fell 0.5% in May.
Analysts said the June report was simply a continuation of the weakness in the manufacturing side of the economy, which has been in a virtual recession this year with the poor performance by smokestack America dragging down overall economic growth. The economy, as measured by the gross national product, expanded at a sluggish 2.5% rate from January through June, far below Reagan Administration expectations.