Orders for equipment, appliances, aircraft and other so-called durable goods fell 4.2 percent in March from February, the Census Bureau reports.
It's the second decline in the past three months and the biggest monthly dip in three years. Much of the drop in March was due to a decline in orders for aircraft. "But companies also ordered less machinery and other equipment, a sign manufacturing output may slow," The Associated Press writes.
Bloomberg News adds that "slowdowns in Europe and China may limit exports, while business investment cools after the strongest 10-quarter performance in a decade, leading to a slowdown in manufacturing."
First Trust chief economist Brian Wesbury, though, tells our Newscast Desk that he believes the economy "is still trending to the positive even though every once in a while we get a negative number."
We'll learn more about the economy later today from the Federal Reserve. It's due to release its latest policy statement at 12:30 p.m. ET, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to take questions from reporters at 2:15 p.m. ET.