U.S. manufacturers’ new orders of machine tools decline for the second consecutive month during December 2018 to $443.2 million, down 2.1% from November, and down 5.8% from December 2017. The full-year value of machine shops’ capital equipment (“manufacturing technology”) purchases during 2018 was $5.45 billion, which indicates a 19.4% increase in orders over the 2017 full-year total.
Manufacturing technology orders are a leading indicator of industrial activity, as manufacturers invest to complete planned or anticipated production programs. The order totals are tracked by AMT – the Assn. of Manufacturing Technology, which issues the monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report. The report is based on data supplied by participating producers and distributors of metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating equipment.
The USMTO report includes data for domestically manufactured and imported machinery and equipment, and the results are based on actual order totals, nationwide and in six regional markets.
“We finished a fantastic run-up in manufacturing technology orders during 2018, with most analysts looking for good growth in units and modest growth in revenue in 2019,” said AMT president Doug Woods.
AMT noted that the fall in the December orders value negatively impacted most industries, though aerospace, engines and turbines, forging, and stamping as machine-tool buying segments that posted solid second-half-2018 results.
The late-year decline in order values is not unusual, though December results nearly always rally from the trend as manufacturers seek to maximize CapEx budgets and take advantage of tax relief opportunities in the close-out of a year. Many manufacturing results were not available due to the effects of the federal government shutdown during December of the key indicators for manufacturing were not available for December due to the government shutdown. The available data indicated continued growth, but at a slower pace in 2019, ASM commented.
“While our market looks healthy now, there are concerns that trade issues and slower manufacturing technology markets abroad will create headwinds in the U.S. later in the year,” Woods added.
Regionally, the Northeast market delivered total manufacturing technology orders worth $1.01 billion during 2018, an estimated 30.9% increase over the region’s 2017 orders total.
The Southeast region’s metal-cutting machinery orders total $671.64 million during 2018, a 31.3% increase over the previous year’s result for the region.
The North Central-East region drew total new manufacturing technology orders worth $1.23 billion during 2018, 9.3% more than during 2017.
In the North Central-West region, new manufacturing technology orders rose 23.0% from the previous year, to $1.09 billion.
The South Central region reported metal-cutting machinery orders worth $484.5 million during 2018, a 17.0% year-over-year increase.
Finally, in the West region, new orders totaling $925.6 million over 12 months signified a 15.3% increase over the year-earlier total.