By John S. McClenahen Last year's relatively strong finish in orders for U.S.-made machine tools hinted that manufacturers might finally be getting serious about capital expenditures. But in January 2003, U.S. machine tool consumption slowed by 24.9%, consistent with other economic indicators showing a U.S. economy still struggling to overcome war and oil worries, and recover from the 2001 recession. January U.S. machine tool consumption totaled $149.7 million, well below both December 2002's $199.43 million and January 2002's $184.73 million, reveal data jointly compiled by AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology, McLean, Va., and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association, Rockville, Md. In January 2003, new orders for U.S. consumption of metal-cutting machine tools were $128.5 million, down 18.9% from December 2002's $158.5 million in orders. New orders for metal-forming machine tools in January totaled $21.21 million, 48.2% less than the $40.93 million order figure for December of last year.