WASHINGTON — Orders for "big ticket" durable goods, hurt by a steep decline in demand for defense equipment, fell 2.6% in August for the biggest setback in five months, the government said Tuesday.
The Commerce Department said orders for items expected to last three or more years totaled $103.4 billion in August, $2.8 billion below July's level. Orders had risen 3.4% in July and 0.1% in June.
The weakness last month was attributed to a 24.5% drop in defense orders, which fell to $7.7 billion in August after having risen 40% in July. But even without the weakness in defense, orders would have declined 0.3%.
When orders rose in both June and July, some analysts contended that the worst might be over in smokestack America.
Lawrence Chimerine, president of Chase Econometrics, an economic forecasting firm in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said the August decline in orders showed that domestic manufacturers are still suffering from stiff import competition.