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January Cutting Tool Consumption Fuels Optimism

March 8, 2017
U.S. manufacturers purchases show cutting-tool deliveries on a “firmer footing in early 2017” $173.05 million, +8.7% month/month +8.7% year/year Caution for exports
Cutting tools are cited as the primary consumable in manufacturing operations, making cutting tool consumption an indicator of overall manufacturing activity.

Machine shops and other U.S. manufacturers consumed $173.05 million worth of cutting tools during January, an increase of 8.7% from the December total ($159.17 million), and also up 8.7% from the January 2016 result ($159.22 million.)  The figures are reported in the latest release of the Cutting Tool Market Report, a monthly summary of cutting-tool sales issued by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

The CTMR data is based on actual dollar figures reported by participating companies, who represent the majority of the U.S. market for cutting tools.

Cutting tools are a primary consumable for machine shops and other manufacturing operations, and the consumption of those products serves as an index to their production volumes, comparable to manufacturers’ durable goods shipments.

While the December consumption figure showed signs of an increase to come, consumption fell 4.3% overall for 2016.

“The latest data indicate cutting tool shipments are on a somewhat firmer footing in early 2017,” according to Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics. “The overall trend in durable goods orders and shipments points to firming activity after a lackluster 2016 performance. Likewise, most leading manufacturing indicators show improving domestic and global confidence levels.”

Speaking for the report’s authors, AMT’s Cutting Tool Product Group chairman Brad Lawton acknowledged that the January figures support an optimistic outlook for domestic manufacturing. However, he also offered a note of caution.

“For the export of U.S.-made cutting tools it is hoped that the strength of the U.S. dollar and the Trump Administration trade policies will not destroy this potential business,” Lawton commented. “We must all wait and see the numbers at the end of the first quarter.”

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