The numbers: Orders at U.S. factories for long-lasting goods fell 0.2% in August mainly because of decline in bookings for large aircraft, but investment rose in a sign the industrial side of the economy is still chugging ahead.
Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.5% decline. Durable goods are products like cars, appliances and computers meant to last at least three years.
More important, a key measure of business spending jumped 1.3% last month, the government said.
These so-called core orders are viewed as a sign of whether the future path of businesses and the broader economy are good or bad. They strip out military spending as well as the up-and-down auto and aerospace industries.
Business investment has climbed a solid 8.8% in the past year, but its the weakest span of growth since early 2021. Investment is also barely keeping up with inflation.
Big picture: Manufacturers have struggled for the past two years to meet high demand amid a booming economy and ongoing shortages of supplies and labor.
Now demand appears to be slowing and it could continue to slow.
While weaker demand will help ease inflation, it would also curb profits and could force companies to cut jobs, exacerbating any potential downturn in the economy.