Machine tool orders surged in December as customers put in orders they had delayed, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said in a monthly report.
Orders totaled $403.8 million for the month, up 24 percent from an adjusted $324.45 million in November.
“Our members received orders that manufacturers had put off for most of 2019 due to a lack of confidence and fear of a recession expected in manufacturing in late 2019 or early 2020,” Douglas K. Woods, president of McLean, Va.-based AMT, said in a statement.
“Manufacturers continued to reduce their backlog,” he added,
Manufacturing slowed during the second half of 2019. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, called the PMI, indicated economic contraction for the last five months of the year. However, the PMI showed economic growth in January.
Despite the monthly increase, machine tool orders were still 9 percent below levels for December 2019. For the year, orders slid to $4.5 billion for 2019, down 17 percent compared with 2018.
The figures are based on information from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.
“Despite the overall drop in orders in 2019, it was still one of the strongest years in the past five years,,” Woods said.
AMT said it’s too early to tell if December marked the start of a trend. The group said it expects a slow start for 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. AMT said orders should rise in the second half of the year.