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Tool Orders Fall; Industry Is Optimistic

<i> From Reuters</i>

Orders for machine tools fell 24.1% in November due to the sagging economy and volatile Middle East situation, but they were still higher than a year ago, a trade group reported.

Albert Moore, president of the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology, said other causes for optimism included “continued export opportunities, particularly now that the dollar is at a more realistic level, and the need for investment by American manufacturers (which) mean business for machine tool builders.”

The recent move by the Federal Reserve to lower key interest rates, which in turn would aid domestic production and trade, also is encouraging for industry, Moore added.

November machine tool orders fell to $203.4 million from October’s $268.10 million, the association said. But they were 10.3% higher than the $184.40 million in orders in November of 1989.

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Machine tools, including computer-assisted lathes, machining centers and milling machines, are used to produce a wide range of articles--from household goods to heavy machinery and sophisticated weaponry.

Economists watch the orders as an indication of the future health of manufacturing.

In its monthly statistical report, the trade association said machine tool shipments had a value of $268.65 million, up from $253.75 million the previous month, but 14% below the year-ago level.

Foreign orders totaled $41.50 million, up from $33.95 million in October and $36.20 million in November, 1989.

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Metal-cutting tool orders fell 24.6% last month to $137.45 million but were up 6.6% from a year ago, when orders totaled $128.90 million.

Metal-cutting shipments fell 2.8% to $183.45 million in November and were 19.8% below last year’s level.

Orders for metal-forming tools fell 23% last month to $65.95 million from October’s $85.70 million, but were up 18.8% over the $55.5 million of a year ago.

Metal-forming shipments totaled $85.20 million in November, a 31.2% increase from October’s $64.95 million. They were up only 0.1% from the $85.10 million of November, 1989, however.


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