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USMTC orders surge as federal incentives become available.

Machine tools and other metalworking equipment had a boost in monthly orders in March as the economic stimulus package signed in mid-February took effect.

March orders, tracked under the joint U.S. Manufacturing Technology Consumption series of reports run by AMT and AMTDA, totaled $544.6-million. That's up nearly 85% from the previous month and up 36% from the total of $400.2-million logged in March 2007.

The March orders brought the first-quarter 2008 order total to $1,183.6-million, up 16 1/2% from the first quarter of last year.

The numbers "demonstrate that the investment-incentive stimulus package along with the weak dollar are helping metalworking manufacturing to counteract the weaknesses in other sectors of the economy," said Peter Borden, president of the machine-tool distributors' association. He went on to say, "It's noteworthy that all areas of the country had substantial gains; and this makes us cautiously optimistic for the balance of the year."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 provides a temporary increase in the limitations on expensing depreciable assets like production equipment. It also allows an additional first-year write-offunder the so-called modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS). The revised tax regs are limited to the current calendar year.

In March, all five regions of the United States saw a hefty percentage gain over the previous month. The spike was highest in the Midwest, slightly more than 200%, while even the Central region saw a 22% increase over February. The map shows March orders and each region's share of the national March total.

For the first quarter, the Midwest has logged $431.3-million in orders, 53% above the same quarter in 2007. The South is showing a 38% increase, and the Northeast is running 9% ahead of 1Q07. For the Central region, down 7%, and the West, down 14%, the March surge was not enough to lift the first quarter higher.

The USMTC statistics track orders for consumption of both imported and domestically produced machine tools and related technology.

Amer. Machine Tool Distributors' Assn., Rockville, Md. 301-738-1200.

AMT--The Assn. for Mfg. Technology, McLean, Va. 703-893-2900.
Orders by Region, March 2008

West $65-M 12%
Central $116-M 21%
Midwest $223-M 41%
North-east $71-M 13%
South $67-M 12%

Source: USMTC
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Publication:Metalworking Insiders' Report
Date:May 30, 2008
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