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USCTI/AMT CTMR April 2019 chart
Graph comparing the 12-month moving average for manufacturing durable goods shipments and cutting tool orders. April 2019 U.S. cutting tool consumption totaled $206.3 million.

April Cutting Tool Demand Shows Weakening Manufacturing

A slight decline in consumption is attributed to slowing business investment, weak automotive sector activity, Boeing’s problems, and doubts about global trade deals.

U.S. manufacturers consumed $206.3 million worth of cutting tools during April, according to the latest Cutting Tool Market Report issued by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – the Association for Manufacturing Technology. The April figure represents  a 1.9% decline from the March total but a 1.3% rise over cutting-tool consumption during April 2018.

Through the first four months of 2019, the CTMR reports a total of $837.4 million for cutting-tool consumption, a 6.7% increase compared with January-April 2018.

While capital investment in new production equipment has been declining for several months, according to AMT’s monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Report, the April decline in manufacturing activity is a more recent development. According to Mark Killion, director of U.S. Industries at Oxford Economics, and cited by USCTI and AMT: "New orders fell back in April, although remaining above year-ago levels, in line with slowing business investment and weakness in the motor vehicles sector."

Cutting tools are a primary consumable product for machine shops and other manufacturers, making the CTMR a reliable index to the pace of manufacturing activity overall.

The total is based on data reported by participating manufacturers and distributors whose activities represent a significant share of the entire U.S. market for cutting tools.

“April’s report continues to reflect a very robust market,” according to USCTI president Phil Kurtz. “However, the growth rate appears to be slowing. This is in line with what other industries are reporting.

Kurtz specifically cited the decline in manufacturing activity related to the idling of Boeing 737 production, as well as the market uncertainty introduced by “unsettled trade agreements.”

“If those issues are resolved in the next couple of months, 2019 could end as another record year,” according to Kurtz.

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