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US Machine Tool Orders Fell in April, But Up YTD

June 20, 2017
AMT points to parallel indices to support argument for recovery in manufacturing demand $324.46 million, -21.0% vs. April +12.3% vs. April 2016 South Central regions shows
Machine tool orders are an indicator of manufacturing confidence, as machine shops and other operations prepare to address new business and future demand.

U.S. manufacturers’ new orders for machine tools totaled $324.46 million during April, a drop of 21.0% from the March result and yet a 12.3% improvement over the April 2016 total. The latest results brought the year-to-date total for manufacturing technology orders to $1.29 billion, or 2.1% higher than the comparable figure for January-April 2016.

Data for machine tool new orders are recorded monthly by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) in its U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report. USMTO data comprises of actual totals for machine tool sales, nationwide and in six regions, as reported by participating companies that produce and distribute metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating equipment, including domestically manufactured and imported machinery and equipment.

However, the new figures parallel the decline in manufacturing activity revealed in the separate Cutting Tool Market Report.

According to AMT, the year-over-year and year-to-date improvements in new orders for April “are in line with other indicators that show strength in manufacturing: growth in industrial production and consumer sentiment; PMI above 50 for the ninth consecutive month, indicating expansion; and business confidence at its highest level in 13 years.”

AMT president Douglas K. Woods credited “a combination of strong quotation activity and adjustments to inventory give us a promising outlook for capital equipment investment through the rest of 2017.

“We are cautiously optimistic in the positive direction for the manufacturing technology market,” Woods continued. “On one hand, we’re bolstered by the Conference Board CEO Confidence Index hitting its highest level since 2004, but also balancing off reductions in auto sales projections and flat oil prices, which have impacted some of our key sectors.”

Most of the USMTO regional results for April were less obviously positive. Manufacturers in the Northeast reported $46.59 million worth of new orders during April, 29.4% less than during March, and the regional metal-cutting equipment orders were 19.3% less than the comparable figure for April 2016. For the current year to-date, the Northeast region has reported machine tool new orders totaling $226.75 million, 7.8% less than last year’s January-April total orders.

In the Southeast, April new orders for metal-cutting equipment totaled $38.45 million, 33.0% less than March’s total, but 31.4% higher than April 2016’s figure. The region’s four-month total for metal-cutting equipment orders is $150.45 million, just 0.3% more than the comparable figure for last year.

The North Central-East region reported $73.20 million in new orders for metal-cutting equipment during April, 19.0% less than during March but 11.1% more than during April 2016. The year-to-date total is $295.05 million, 4.6% less than last year’s result for January through April.

The North Central-West region turned in total manufacturing orders of $45.68 million for April, 27.2% less than during March and 13.2% less than during April 2016. Through the first four months of this year, the region has drawn new orders totaling $199.60 million, which is 14.0% less than during January-April 2016.

Manufacturers in the South Central region reported some clearly encouraging results. There, total metal-cutting equipment orders during April amounted to $41.57 million, 17.9% more than during March and 97.4% more than during April 2016. Total YTD new orders for the region stand at $127.78 million for the South Central region, which is 55.8% higher than last year’s comparable figure.

Finally, in the West region metal-cutting equipment new orders totaled $74.55 million during April, a 2.4% drop from March but a 38.6% more than during April 2016. Total YTD new orders for the West region rose to $252.99 million through April, which is 15.9% higher than last year’s regional total.

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