NEW YORK - Machine tool purchases fell 24.9 percent in January from the previous month, and fell 19 percent from the same time a year ago, two industry groups reported.
Companies spent an estimated $149.7 million for machine tools in January, the Association for Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association said in a report released today.
The decline was most pronounced in the Northeast and the Midwest. Only the South region saw an increase.
January sales were down from $184.73 million in January 2002.
Analysts consider the demand for machine tools as a reliable indicator of the strength of the manufacturing industry and the overall productivity, since the reports provide information about the industries' investment in capital metalworking equipment.
"Over half of U.S. manufacturers are working with machines made in the 1960s," said Albert W. Moore, the AMT's president. "The only way they can regain international competitiveness is to allow them to fully expense the purchase of equipment in the year that it is acquired."
Compared with data from January 2002, machine tool sales fell 14.6 percent in the West, 32 percent in the Midwestern region, and 35 percent in the Northeast region. In the South, consumption rose 38.7 percent from a year earlier while the Central region was flat.
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