Orders for machine tools plunged in January, a sign that a sustained recovery hasn’t yet arrived, according to a monthly report by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (McLean, VA).
Such orders totaled $252.2 million during the first month of 2017. That’s down 41% from December’s adjusted $425.2 million and 11% from $284.7 million for January 2016.
“January’s slump was not unexpected as it was in line with analyst forecasts for a soft start to 2017,” AMT President Douglas K. Woods said in an e-mailed statement. “We continue to be on track for an upturn later in the spring.”
Machine tool orders improved during the second half of 2016. However, orders for all of last year still fell about 4% compared with 2015 levels.
The figures are based on information from companies participating in AMT’s US Manufacturing Technology Orders program.
AMT has previously said it expects a sustained recovery in machine tool orders beginning in April or May.
The group’s report for machine tool orders lags other manufacturing economic indicators. The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI manufacturing index as well as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report provide data for the preceding month. AMT’s machine tool orders information reports data from two months before.
The ISM index was 57.7% in February, the highest level in 30 months. A level above 50% indicates economic expansion in manufacturing, while a level below 50% reflects contraction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that US manufacturing added 28,000 jobs last month.