U.S. durable goods orders fell sharply in August, posting the largest decline since January 2009, the Commerce Department said Thursday. After posting gains in May, June and July, new orders in August fell 13.2 percent or by $30.1 billion to $198.5 billion compared with the previous month. Falling orders for transportation equipment provided the biggest push with orders in that category down 34.9 percent to $51.9 billion. Of the $30.1 billion total decline in orders, the drop posted by transportation equipment came to $27.8 billion, the department said. Out of recognition of the volatility of the transportation sector, which includes big ticket items of planes, trains, ships and trucks, the department releases new orders data excluding transportation. Leaving transportation equipment out of the mix left total orders off 1.6 percent. Excluding orders for defense, new orders fell 12.4 percent. Shipments of manufactured durable goods, down for two of the past three months, fell 3 percent to $222.5 billion. Transportation equipment again had the largest decrease with shipments in the category down 7.9 percent to $63.9 billion, a drop of $5.5 billion.