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August US Manufacturing Tech. Orders Down 3.2% from July, 14.4% YTD

August's total orders of $365.6 million were down 27.6 percent from a year earlier, which was the best August on record.

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U.S. manufacturing technology orders fell 3.2 percent month-to-month in August, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report from the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT).

August's total orders of $365.6 million were down 27.6 percent from August 2018, which was the best August on record. Year-to-date through August, U.S. manufacturing technology orders of $2.99 billion were down 14.4 percent. However, AMT notes the total value of those 2019 orders are the second-highest annual total through August since 2014.

Metal cutting — comprising 98.7 percent ($360.7 million) of August's total manufacturing technology orders — dipped 1.7 percent month-to-month in August and were down 13.0 percent year-to-date, while August orders for metal forming & fabricating ($4.9 million) sunk 53.9 percent from July and were down 41.9 percent year-to-date.

AMT's data shows that the Southeast region experienced major growth in August, driven primarily by orders in the metal cutting category. The Northeast was the only other region to have positive order growth from July to August. The North Central – East had the largest month-over-month decline, decreasing orders by more than 25 from July. The West and South-Central posted losses, while the North-Central-West region was near-flat from over the previous month.

"The consensus of analysts at MTForecast is that markets should pick up in the U.S. as early as next summer, and will pick up in Europe several months earlier, taking the pressure off the U.S.,” AMT president Douglas K. Woods said in a news release. "This was reflected at EMO Hannover where we saw a great deal of interest on the floor, particularly in the Industry 4.0/IIoT pavilion, but not a high level of capital commitment, reflecting uncertainty and challenges in the European market."

By industry sector: August orders from machine shops were near-flat, yet showed a slight increase over July; Construction machinery manufacturing vastly expanded orders over July; Aerospace orders increased by nearly one-third; The automotive sector decreased orders overall despite modest increases from the transmission and powertrain manufacturing sector.

"Looking at Asia, it is likely the Free Trade Agreement with Japan will substantially reduce tariffs on U.S. machine tools imports from Japan, which will require some adjustments," Woods noted. "Overall, it should have a positive impact on trade and improve the profitability and opportunities of U.S. agricultural, automotive and aerospace sectors, which could well offset any negative effects of tariffs falling on manufacturing technology imports."

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