Key Business Indicators Soar in September, Quickening Year's Pace

Major increases in U.S. manufacturing technology orders and cutting tool sales in September are raising business expectations for the fourth quarter and 2015. Shown here is an automated work cell developed by EMAG. Major increases in U.S. manufacturing technology orders and cutting tool sales in September are raising business expectations for the fourth quarter and 2015. Shown here is an automated work cell developed by EMAG.

Attendees and show organizers gushed over the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in September, citing a high turnout for the six-day event, the quality and breadth of exhibitors, leading-edge machine and component displays, informative conferences and new-technology displays, opportunities for networking, and, importantly, the positive business atmosphere.

These observations are now being qualified by numbers that reflect the enhanced sales generated during or after the show - at least those representing U.S. cutting tool sales and manufacturing technology orders (MTO).

Numbers released on Nov. 12 by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) show that cutting tool sales in September amounted to $176.5 million, an increase of 4.6 percent from August, and a jump of 7.7 percent from September 2013.

AMT also reports that MTO in September totaled $647.63 million, a 77.3 percent surge from August, and a 61.4 percent gain from September 2013.

On the strength of these results, AMT believes that fourth-quarter sales will remain high for manufacturing companies and equipment OEMs, and generate positive carry-over into 2015.

The numbers on cutting tool sales are compiled by AMT and the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) for the monthly Cutting Tool Market Report, a joint collaboration. The reports are developed from data supplied by participating companies, which represent 80 percent of U.S. cutting tool consumption, according to AMT and USCTI.

The September figures mark the fifth time this year that U.S. cutting tool consumption has posted a monthly increase - the other months being January, March, April, and June.

The $176.5 million generated in September brings the 2014 total to approximately $1.51 billion. This keeps cutting tool sales on track to roughly equal the $2.03 billion recorded in 2013. Since the boost in business from IMTS and from stronger manufacturing technology orders is expected to last through the fourth quarter, this could lift total annual sales above last year.

The upsurge seen in September's U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report "back up the anecdotal reports that IMTS was an exceptionally strong show," said Douglas K. Woods, AMT's president, in a statement.

In fact, the September numbers for manufacturing technology orders (MTO) are not only much higher than those in August and, for that fact, July, which was almost even with August, but they could be the start of an increase in business that provides a significant lift to 2014 sales over those of 2013. Prior to the September figures, MTO amounted to $3.07 billion, 2.4 percent less than for the same eight-month period last year. The new figures raise year-to-date sales to $3.73 billion, which increases 2014 orders through the third quarter to 5.2 percent over the same period last year.

In breaking down the MTO numbers by region, all six areas cited (two of which are combined) posted strong gains in September, and three of the four regions listed recorded solid year-to-date advances.

In the Northeast Region, MTO totaled $115.94 million, an 84.9 percent increase from August and an 86.5 percent jump from 2013. Year-to-date MTO in the Northeast is up 3.14 percent from 2013.

The MTO in the combined North Central-East Region came to $133.90 million, up 46.6 percent from August, and 27.1 percent higher than in September 2013. The year-to-date total for the region is $983.23 million, 7.2 percent higher than in the same period last year.

In the combined North Central-West Region, MTO reached $136.76 million in September, an increase of 101.3 percent from August and 85.2 percent from a year ago. The year-to-date total for the region is now $647.27 million, which represents a decrease of 1.4 percent from 2013.

AMT only released a year-to-date tally for the Southeast Region, but MTO here is $356.43 million, a 9.2 percent gain from the same period last year.

Woods noted that these positive results also need legislative support in the form of tax extender legislation by Congress to revive expired tax breaks between now and the end of the year, and comprehensive tax reform in 2015.


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