Machine tool orders up 6.4% February increase viewed as signal of economic growth.

March 30, 1992|By Seth Faison Jr. | Seth Faison Jr.,New York Times News Service

Orders for American-made machine tools rose 6.4 percent last month from January's level, in another sign of renewed economic growth, according to a report to be released today by an industry trade group.

The Association for Manufacturing Technology, calculated February's orders at $231.4 million, up from $217.4 million in January. The amount of February orders was down 5.6 percent, however, from the $245.2 million of February 1991.

Together with January's figures, year-to-date orders for machine tools totaled $448.8 million, up 0.9 percent from $445.0 million in the first two months of last year.

Of the $231.4 million in total orders, $200.6 million were placed by American companies and $30.8 million were sold for export.

"Domestic orders are off to a good start," Albert W. Moore, president of the association, said. He noted that domestic machine tool sales had topped $200 million for two consecutive months, while in 1991 domestic sales topped $200 million only three times all year.

The association's statistics combine figures for metal-cutting and metal-forming machines. Each type is used to produce a significant number of manufactured goods, from refrigerators and cookware to automobiles and aircraft, and is regarded by economists as one of many indicators of the nation's economic condition.

Exports have been depressed in recent months, but Mr. Moore expressed the industry's determination to press ahead with efforts to gain foreign market share.

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