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Machine Tool Orders Post Strong Gains in December

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders posted strong gains in December on both a monthly and year-over-year basis, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today.

Orders totaled $456.7 million in December, according to a monthly report by McLean, Va.-based AMT. That was 39 percent higher than an adjusted $329.8 million in November. It was also 18 percent better than $388.3 million in December 2019.

The figures represented a strong conclusion to a year where the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted manufacturing in general and hit some industries, such as aerospace, especially hard.

December orders “saw growth in all geographic regions of the country as well as across the majority of manufacturing sectors,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.

Normally, manufacturers reduce output with holiday schedules in December, Woods said.

“The aerospace industry, which has been anemic since the spring due to the collapse of global travel, did significantly better than it has in many months,” Woods added.

Boeing Co. reported a record annual loss of almost $12 billion for 2020 as deliveries of commercial aircraft declined 59 percent for the year. The company did receive a boost when U.S. regulators late in the year approved the company’s 737 Max to return to the air.

For all of 2020, machine tool orders totaled $3.9 billion, a 15 percent decline from 2019 orders. The figures are from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

AMT said December may be a preview of improved results.

“Things bode well for a positive start to 2021,” Woods said. The AMT president cited “pent-up demand, depleted inventories” and new COVID-19 vaccines as factors favoring machine tool orders.

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