By John S. McClenahen Gross new orders of machine tools for U.S. consumption ran $150.99 million in August, 16.6% higher than they were in July but significantly below the $235.19 million recorded in June. Orders for metal cutting machine tools in August were $140.48 million, up 14.2% from July, according to statistics jointly released by McLean, Va.-based AMT -- The Association for Manufacturing Technology and the Rockville, Md.-based American Machine Tool Distributors' Association. Orders for metal forming machine tools were $10.51 million, up 59.8% from July. "August orders and increased output among many of our customers appear to be signaling an end to the decline in manufacturing technology investments," says John B. Byrd III, president of AMT. "While a capital spending recovery has not yet begun, better times seem to be on the horizon."