The U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report (USMTO) for February 2016 showed that orders were down 5.1% compared to the previous month, and down 12.8% compared to the same month in 2015. The report is generated from data compiled by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
However, according to Pat McGibbon, vice president of strategic analytics for AMT, in the video below, the end of the decline may be nearing. "The rate of decline is beginning to slow down and that's a very good indication that we're going to get to the bottom of this downturn somewhere in the near future."
Orders for capital equipment continue to slump as the overall U.S. manufacturing industry battles the effects of a strong dollar and weak demand from international markets. While Europe, Japan and the United States are seeing economic expansion, China continues to struggle along with other emerging global economies. However, increasing commodity prices and other positive economic indicators could point to a more favorable climate for some sectors of U.S. manufacturing, particularly mining, construction and agricultural.
“We’ve seen some better news about manufacturing, especially for the domestic market, but the industry will continue to face a number of economic challenges through much of the year,” said AMT President Douglas K. Woods. “Our members are reporting more quotation activity for their products and equipment and we expect an expanded market for manufacturing technology towards the fourth quarter. Additionally, a recent surge in housing starts is anticipated to give a boost to consumer spending, and the March PMI showed expansion in the manufacturing sector for the first time in six months.”
Globally, there are other signs of recovery, including a jump in China’s PMI, its first since July 2015. Europe’s PMI readings also showed moderate growth. Additionally, many Japanese manufacturing firms are nearing the end of their fiscal year, which usually bodes well for order activity.
For regional manufacturing technology orders, activity was again strong from the automotive, medical and aerospace sectors, particularly in the Southeast. The South Central region also showed a gain in orders driven by the oil and gas exploration industry, thanks to a recent boost in oil prices.
February 2016 manufacturing technology orders were valued at $270.9 million, compared to $310.7 million in February 2015. Overall orders for the year are down 16.3% compared to the same point in 2015. USMTO data is a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing companies invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.