The decline in orders to $165.4 billion followed a 0.5% drop in August, the Commerce Department said. The level was the lowest since August 1996. Excluding transportation, orders fell 5.5% after rising 0.2% the previous month.
Shipments of all durable goods fell 5.5% in September, the biggest drop for which records are available that can be compared. The level, at $175.5 billion, is the lowest since March 1997. The Commerce Department said the drop may reflect disruptions in air transportation and border crossings after the attacks.
``The continued weakness in manufacturing has contributed to pessimism about when orders will improve,'' the Federal Reserve said, adding that the weakness is “broadly based.”
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler closed seven plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico this week because of the drop in orders. U.S. production of cars and trucks has fallen 13% so far this year from the comparable period of 2000, according to Ward's Automotive, a sister publication of Fleet Owner.