updated 11/25/2009 8:39:51 AM ET 2009-11-25T13:39:51

Orders for big-ticket factory goods fell unexpectedly in October as the economy struggles to get back to full health.

Major Market Indices

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for costly manufactured goods dropped 0.6 percent last month, following a 2 percent gain in September. It marked the first decline since August.

But much of October's weakness came from an 18.4 percent drop in orders for goods related to defense.

Excluding those, orders for other types of manufactured goods rose 0.4 percent in October, following a 1.8 percent rise in September.

Still, the performance was weaker than economists expected. They were forecasting orders for durable goods to grow 0.5 percent.

Orders for electrical equipment, commercial airplanes and parts, primary metals -- including steel -- and fabricated metals all rose last month.

Orders for cars, machinery, computers and communications equipment fell.

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