New orders for U.S. big-ticket manufactured goods plunged in April as demand for aircraft, cars, computers and a host of other goods slumped, the government said on Friday.

The report from the Commerce Department offered fresh evidence of economic weakness. 

Durable goods orders fell 5 percent last month to $184.74 billion after 2.2 percent rise in March. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders tumbled 3.3 percent. 

The drop in overall orders was far sharper than the 2 percent drop U.S. economists in a Reuters survey had predicted. Orders excluding transportation had been forecast to remain steady in April. 

Aircraft orders dived a steep 10.1 percent in April but that followed big 17.5 percent jump in March. Demand for cars and parts slid 4.7 percent after a 7.1 gain in the prior month. 

As the transportation sector pulled back from earlier strength, the high-technology sector was weak across the board with computer orders down 3.2 percent, orders for communication equipment down 3.3 percent and semiconductor demand sinking 31.9 percent.