U.S. manufacturing technology orders for the first two months of 2018 climbed 27% higher than the same period in 2017 signaling continued strength in the recovery initiated in June 2017, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Orders totaled $354 million in February, down 5% from a 22-year high in January.
“Our industry’s market is up 27% from 2017 as order growth rates accelerate; customers clamor for greater productivity and more capacity; and our member companies push their limits to keep pace with the market’s expansion,” says Pat McGibbon, AMT’s vice president of strategic analytics. “AMT supports free and fair trade; but recent trade issues with several of our major trading partners including China, the world’s largest consumer of manufacturing tech, will make harvesting the benefits of this boom market more challenging.”
Every region saw significant year-to-date growth rates ranging from 15% to 76% even though month-to-month rates varied from a not as high as 19% in the Northeast region to a decline of 24% in the North Central-West region. The variation in growth levels reflects the regionality of sectors that were major forces in moving the market down, such as oil and gas exploration in the South-Central region or mining and off-road equipment in the North Central-West. Likewise, regions which have significant amounts of automotive, medical equipment or aerospace fared better during the downturn such as the Northeast, Southeast, and West regions.
The key leading indicators for the manufacturing technology market were very strong in February and March. Capacity utilization for durable manufacturing moved upwards a percentage point to 76% in February as did Industrial Production which climbed to and index level of 106. The Michigan Consumer Confidence Index climbed 4 points in February and another 2 in March sitting at an index level of 101. Durable goods orders were up half a percent to $248 billion in February. The only indicator to move downward was the Purchasing Managers’ Index which moved from 61 to 59 which still represents a strong expansion of manufacturing business.