Machine tool orders posted mixed results in March, the Association for Manufacturing Technology said.
Orders totalled $413.7 million in March, the McLean, Va.-based group said in a monthly report. That represented a 26 percent surge from an adjusted $328.6 million in February. However, it also amounted to a 20 percent decline from the $515.1 million in March 2018.
Most industries saw order increases of 10 percent or more in March, AMT said. One exception was automotive, where machine tool orders declined. U.S. industrywide sales are slowing.
AMT said it’s now likely that 2019 orders will finish below last year’s levels.
“The 2019 market for manufacturing technology will contract from 2018 but will still likely be one of the best years since the Great Recession,” Pat McGibbon, AMT chief knowledge officer, said in a statement.
“Growth expectations in key geographic markets like China, Europe and a continued rapid expansion in India could lead to any downturn being one of the shortest on record for the manufacturing technology sector,” he said.
For the first three months of the year, orders fell 9.5 percent to $1.14 billion compared with the same period last year.
The figures are based on information from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.
Orders in 2019 may be affected by a trade battle between the U.S. and China.
Last week, talks broke down between the U.S. and China concerning trade disputes. Those negotiations had cooled a trade war. Now, that conflict may expand. The U.S. said May 10 it’s increasing tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on about $200 billion of Chinese imports. It is also beginning the process of boosting tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods.
Companies that import goods pay tariffs and the cost usually is passed on to their customers. One nation doesn’t pay tariffs to another.
”Tariffs run counter to our global competitiveness as they negatively impact not only the offending country but also U.S. companies and their customers,” McGibbon said in the statement. “AMT members are working hard to mitigate increased costs and minimize risks to revenue.”