Posted February 11, 2019

U.S. manufacturing technology orders increased in 2018

Despite a small decline in December, U.S. manufacturing technology orders finished 2018 up 19 percent from the year before.

December orders of $443 million were down two percent from November and six percent from December 2017.

The year-end order total for 2018 was $5.5 billion, up 19 percent from the annual sum for 2017. The November to December drop was only the fourth time in the program’s 23-year history that a year didn’t end with an uptick in orders from November.

“We finished a fantastic run up in manufacturing technology orders during 2018, with most analysts looking for good growth in units and modest growth in revenue in 2019,” said Doug Woods, AMT president. “While our market looks healthy now, there are concerns that trade issues and slower manufacturing technology markets abroad will create headwinds in the U.S. later in the year.”

December orders fell by a modest amount which negatively impacted most industries. Aerospace and Engines and Turbines placed a third or more orders than in November. The Forging and Stamping industry had a very good second half of 2018 posting month-on-month increases in orders for the last three months. Surprisingly, Government and Defense orders were also up in December, perhaps in anticipation of a prolonged government shutdown evenly spread across almost all industrial sectors.

Geographically, the Northeast and West were the strongest markets in December, each posting single-digit gains over November levels. Aerospace and Engines and Turbines held up market levels in what would have been a lackluster month for the Northeast region otherwise. The West held on to a gain in December thanks to the Auto and Stamping and Forging industries. The Northcentral East continues to generate the most orders, but its share has dropped significantly in the past three years. The Northcentral West is the second largest region by dollar volume followed by the Northeast.