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Orders Rise for American-Made Machine Tools

April 26, 1993|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Orders for American-made machine tools jumped 15.7% in March to $327.1 million despite a plunge in foreign demand, the industry's trade group reported Sunday.

The Assn. for Manufacturing Technology said the increase over the February level of $282.65 million reflected strong purchasing interest from a broad range of domestic customers.

"With the exception of December, 1991, March bookings were the best monthly total since an auto-related surge in mid-1988," said Albert W. Moore, president of the McLean, Va.-based group.

The association's monthly report covers two categories of tools, for metal cutting and metal forming. The report represents a relatively small industry, and the monthly figures on orders fluctuate widely.

However, orders for machine tools provide a barometer of future industrial health because the tools are needed to produce a broad range of goods, from washing machines to locomotives. A rise in orders over time can be a sign that manufacturers are confident orders for their products will also rise.

Compared to March, 1992, orders for March, 1993, rose nearly 35%. Year-to-date 1993 machine tool orders totaled $785.3 million, 16% above the year-earlier period.

Export orders in March totaled $27.2 million, a 25% drop from $36.3 million the month before. The decline reflects weaker economies in Europe and Asia. For the first three months of this year, however, export orders totaled $98 million, up 30% from the same period a year earlier.

The order backlog for March totaled $1.3 billion, up from $1.29 billion in February. In March, 1992, the backlog totaled $1.46 billion.

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