New orders for U.S. durable goods slipped 0.8 percent in March, far less than Wall Street expected, while their gain in February was revised downward, Commerce Department data showed on Friday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast orders for long-lasting manufactured goods to drop 1.5 percent.
Durable goods orders have now fallen for seven months out of the last eight, the Commerce Department said. The sole rise in that period, in February, has been revised to 2.1 percent from the 3.5 percent previously reported.
I wouldn't really read this as positive news, said Anna Piretti, senior economist at BNP Paribas in New York. But clearly I would say the momentum is less negative than we saw a couple of months ago.
New orders excluding transportation slid 0.6 percent last month, compared to February when they rose 2.0 percent. Orders excluding defense also fell 0.6 percent, after rising 0.2 percent in February.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, gained 1.5 percent in March after rising 4.3 percent in February.
After the data was released, S&P equity index futures pared gains, while U.S. Treasury debt prices were little changed and the U.S. dollar remained lower versus the euro and yen.
The durables report won't change our opinion all that much of what is going on in the economy, said Jack Bauer, a senior economist at Manning & Napier in Rochester, New York. You want to see the financial sector stabilize. That is the first thing you would need to see the economy improve.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Additional reporting by John Parry and Herb Lash in New York, Editing by Andrea Ricci)