March was a rebound month for the machine tools industry as two industry-wide reports show signs of progress after a dismal start of the year. According to American Machinist, machine tool orders for March totaled $399.83 million, a 30.3% increase from the February total of $306.96 million.

These numbers are reported in the United States Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report compiled by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) that tracks “production and distribution of ‘manufacturing technology’ nationwide and on a regional level, for both domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment,” according to American Machinist.

The USMTO report shows 2015 year-to-date machine tools orders at $1.05 billion, a decrease of 12.7% compared to a similar three-month stretch in 2014.

The rosy numbers mask the fact that the March order total was a decrease of 18.7% compared to $491.73 million worth of machine tools orders in March 2014.

U.S. Manufacturers bought $197.6 million of cutting tools in March, representing a 9.8% increase from February’s cutting tool purchases and a 4.6% increase annually from March 2014, according to a separate American Machinist article. This data is reported in the U.S. Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR) compiled by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute and the AMT.

Industry officials cite the strong March 2015 cutting tool purchases as a strong harbinger of robust growth for U.S. manufacturers.

“As we close the first quarter of 2015, strong cutting tool shipments in March prove that this year’s economic outlook remains solid for the industry,” said Brad Lawton, Chair of AMT’s Cutting Tool Product Group.

“This increase is on track with the positive trend in machine tool orders and durable goods manufacturing. There is a possible caution in the Industry regarding the increasing value of the dollar and the potential impact on exports.”

The USMTO report on machine tools purchases forecasts future movement of manufacturers while the CTMR report is more likely to show “current manufacturing activity,” according to American Machinist.

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