New orders dropped, while February's estimate of 2.2 percent growth was revised to a 1.9 percent increase.
In March, new orders rose by $8.8 billion to $202.6 billion.
Transportation orders in March had the largest decrease, falling by $7.1 billion or 12.5 percent to $49.7 billion.
Excluding transportation, orders were down 1.1 percent, which shows the volatile category of transportation dragged down the rest of the manufacturing sector.
Orders for commercial airplane parts, down $7.7 billion, provided the bulk of the decline in the transportation sector.
Orders for new capital goods not related to defense fell by $8.6 billion or 10.5 percent to $73 billion, while inventories of durable goods, up 27 consecutive months, rose by 0.4 percent to $375.1 billion.
Although orders were down, shipments rose by $2 billion or 1 percent to $208.8 billion.
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