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US factory orders plunge 14.4% as economy grinds to halt

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WASHINGTON — 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 is having on the U.S. economy

The March follows a 1.1% gain in February, before the government-mandated shutdowns to contain the virus had begun.

The report Friday from the Commerce Department showed weakness across the board with demand for transportation products falling 41%. Demand for motor vehicles and commercial airliners both tumbled.

The dire numbers from Commerce follow a report showing that manufacturing production collapsed in March, posing the biggest declines since the country demobilized after World War II.

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press