Orders for expensive manufactured items fell in October as businesses spent less on machinery, computers, and most other goods, the U.S. government reported Wednesday, signaling a loss of momentum in factory activity. The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods fell 2 percent last month, following a 4.1 percent increase in September. Most of the October decline was attributed to a 16 percent drop in orders for civilian and defense aircraft. A closely watched gauge of business spending plans unexpectedly fell in October for the second consecutive month. Non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 1.2 percent, suggesting companies may have been reluctant to invest during the 16-day federal government shutdown in the first half of the month. Elsewhere in the report, orders increased for primary metals, computer and electronic products, motor vehicles, and electrical equipment.