Orders for US big-ticket factory goods drop 17.2% in April

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2020 file photo a worker pushes a cart past refrigerators at a Home Depot store location in Boston. On Thursday, May 28, the C...

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2020 file photo a worker pushes a cart past refrigerators at a Home Depot store location in Boston. On Thursday, May 28, the C...

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. orders for big-ticket factory goods plunged for the second straight month in April as the coronavirus pandemic hammered the economy.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders for durable goods dropped 17.2% last month after falling 16.6% in March. Excluding orders for transportation equipment, which can be volatile from month to month, durable goods orders fell 7.4%.

New orders for cars, trucks and auto parts shrank 52.8%.

A category that tracks business investment — orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — decreased 5.8% after falling 1.1% in March.

The lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing measures meant to contain COVID-19 have brought economic activity to a near standstill across the United States.

Still, last month's decline in durable goods orders was slightly less than economists had expected.