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Machine Tool Orders Surge in March, AMT Says

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders surged in March as manufacturing’s economic expansion continued.

Orders totaled $437.9 million for the month, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today in a monthly report. That was 16 percent better than an adjusted $377 million for February and a 42 percent improvement from $309.3 million in March 2020.

The year-earlier period was when the COVID-19 pandemic began to slam the U.S. economy. In manufacturing, factories shut down to implement additional safety procedures in response to the coronavirus.

The increase in orders was widespread, McLean, Va.-based AMT said.

“Agricultural, construction, and mining machinery orders more than doubled from last month,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement. “Recreational equipment, including boats, motorcycles, snow mobiles, and ATVs, were all very strong.”

Automotive and aerospace, two industries that normally drive demand for machine tools, posted declines in March, Woods said.

The results highlighted “just how strong orders from other sectors were in March,” he added.

For the first quarter of 2021, machine tool orders totaled $1.14 billion, a 30 percent gain from the first three months of last year.

Last week, the Institute for Supply Management reported its manufacturing index registered at strong levels. The index registered at 60.7 percent in April after reaching 64.7 percent in March, the highest in almost 40 years. The index is considered a leading economic indicator and a barometer of where manufacturing is heading economically.

The figures in today’s AMT report are from companies participating in the group’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

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