The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) reported orders for manufacturing technology climbed month-to-month and year-to-date in December 2017. Orders totaled $447 million for the month, up 6% compared to November. At a cumulative total of $4.5 billion for the year, orders were up 8% compared to the year-end total in 2016.
“The year ended as market growth looks to pick up speed in the first quarter of 2018 with the only constraint to growth being builders’ ability to deliver product fast enough,” said AMT President Douglas K. Woods. “This has been exacerbated by recent rebounds in both the EU and Chinese manufacturing sectors significantly increasing the demand side of the equation.”
The U.S. market was strong across all the regional markets with the North Central East region falling less than a percent after posting the fourth best monthly total in December. October and November registered the second and third best months of the year resulting in a stellar fourth quarter for the region. The South Central region, which suffered the most in the past downturn, posted a nearly 30% increase over November levels and was nearly 60% up for the year relative to 2016. Energy exploration orders have made a modest comeback in 2017, but this region’s growth was due to significant increases in orders from the job shop, metalworking, auto and food processing industries.
The key leading indicators for the manufacturing technology market are positive and most are signaling significant expansion of the market going forward. While capacity utilization paused at 77% for the manufacturing sector, the industrial production index continued to edge upwards in December to 106. Durable goods orders were up 3% in December pushing backlogs up nearly a percentage point yielding a backlog that is nearly five times larger than monthly durable goods shipments. The top two leading indicators, the Purchasing Managers’ Index and the Metalworking Business Index, published by Gardner Business Media, were both 59.1. These signal continued expansion of the manufacturing sector and manufacturing technology market over the next quarter.
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