US factory orders plunge 14.4% as economy grinds to halt

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods plunged 14.4% in March, a worse-than-expected performance that underscored the severe impact the coronavirus pandemic was having on the U.S. economy.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the March decline in durable goods orders followed a 1.1% gain in February before the government-mandated shutdowns to contain the virus had begun.

The report showed weakness across the board with demand for transportation products falling 41% with demand for motor vehicles and commercial airliners both dropping sharply.