WASHINGTON --Orders to U.S. factories fell sharply in December, closing out a year in which demand for American manufactured goods fell for the first time in six years.
The Commerce Department says factory orders dropped 2.9 percent in December, the fourth decline in the past five months. For the entire year, factory orders fell 6.6 percent, marking the first annual decline since 2009, a year when the country was struggling to emerge from the Great Recession.
The 2015 decline underscores the problems American manufacturers are facing from spreading global weakness and the rising strength of the dollar.
The big December decline was led by a plunge in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile category. But orders in a key category that tracks business investment also fell sharply.