Orders for durable goods dropped in December for the first time in five months, the Commerce Department reported.
Orders for products meant to last more than three years fell 4.3%, which followed a 2.6% increase in November. The bulk of such goods are purchased by businesses, so a drop in orders likely signals a retreat among businesses and uncertainty over consumer demand, Bloomberg News reported.
“Businesses see limited prospects for their consumers,” Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, told Bloomberg. “They’re not willing to take the risk and invest when they know the consumer is not going to be there to pick up that added volume.”
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a 1.8% increase in durable orders in December.
Excluding transportation equipment, which often has volatile month-to-month demand, orders decreased 1.6%, the most since March, Commerce said. Those orders had increased 0.1% in November.