Machine tool orders rose 18.6% in March Pickup indicates firms are investing in plants, equipment


MCLEAN, Va. -- Orders for U.S. industrial tools rose 18.6 percent in March from the month before, the Association for Manufacturing Technology said today, suggesting that U.S. businesses are investing more in plants and equipment.

Last month's orders for machine tools reached their highest level since March of last year.

"The pace of export order growth accelerated in March, driven primarily by two of our major export markets -- Mexico and China," said association President Albert W. Moore.

Domestic customers increased their orders 11 percent last month while demand from abroad jumped 65 percent, the trade group's report showed. That's a reflection of the overall 1995 trend, which has shown exports surging while domestic demand moderated in line with a slowing U.S. economy.

Economists follow orders and shipments of machine tools -- used to shape and assemble metals in products ranging from diesel engines to dishwashers -- to gauge industrial output, consumer demand and business investment.

The report showed that machine tool orders surged to $499.8 million in March after falling a revised 8.7 percent to $421.4 million in February. Previously, February orders were reported to have declined 10.2 percent.

By category, orders for metal-cutting tools, such as drills, rose 40.7 percent to $335.5 million, while orders for metal-forming tools, such as stamp press machines, decreased 10.1 percent to $164.3 million last month. Shipments fell 1.5 percent to $453.75 million.

Pub Date: 4/29/96

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