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Machine Tool Orders Down in February

March 28, 1994|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Orders for U.S.-made machine tools fell a sharp 22.1% in February, an industry group will announce today, signaling a slowdown in manufacturing after a hectic pace in the last half of 1993.

Tool orders fell to $280.75 million in February from January's revised $360.20 million, said the Assn. of Manufacturing Technology. The drop was the first since last November, when orders fell 7.5%.

February orders fell 0.7% from $282.65 million a year ago.

Despite the decline, the month's orders were among the best in the industry's history, association president Albert Moore said. "That's a good harbinger of continued strong growth in order activity during 1994."

Machine tools are used by manufacturers to create their own tools for the factory floor. Since orders are made at the beginning of a production cycle, they provide an early indication of what production levels will be.

Industry analysts expect manufacturing to continue growing this year but at a slower rate than in 1993. Last year, manufacturing output jumped 4.6%, with much of the increase coming toward the end of the year.

The heady pace of manufacturing activity from late last year into early 1994 was fueled mostly by a surge in auto production and aircraft orders.

But many analysts expect auto manufacturing to fall off in the second quarter and the aircraft industry to go into a long-term decline.

Machine tool orders for export rose 56% to $16.85 million in February from $10.80 million in January. But February export orders were down 53.6% from $36.30 a year ago.

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