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Machine Tool Orders Surge in February

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

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

Orders for the first two months of the year were at the highest level in more than two decades, the McLean, Va.-based group said.

February orders totaled $479.3 million for the month, AMT said. That was up 8.9 percent from an adjusted $440.2 million in January and 27 percent from $377.2 million in February 2021.

Orders for the first two months totaled $919.5 million. That was up 30 percent from $705 million for the same period last year. The 2022 figure was the best combined January-February performance since 1998, when orders surpassed $1 billion.

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

“The industry seems to be carrying the momentum of 2021 into the beginning of 2022, recording the best start to the year in over two decades,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.

In 2021, orders surged toward the end of the year as the machine tool industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic took off.

Woods sounded a cautionary note concerning the rest of 2022.

“Conditions can change quickly,” the AMT president said. “We saw this in 2021 when order values during the first few months of the year performed only moderately well, but by the end of 2021 it was the best year on record. This can cut both ways so we may need to temper the early 2022 excitement as conditions on the ground change.” 

The U.S. economy may feel the impact of higher gasoline prices stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Federal Reserve in March raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 and indicated additional increases will take place this year. The Fed is responding to a rise in inflation.

“The aggressive posture taken by the Federal Reserve in their last meeting is really telling,” Woods said. “Inflation needs to be controlled, but for interest rate-sensitive activities like capital investment, the medicine may be a tough pill to swallow.”

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