By John S. McClenahen Dramatically increased capital spending will be essential to U.S. economic recovery, and so far there are no encouraging signals being sent by the bellwether machine tool industry. Indeed, U.S. consumption of the big machines that cut and form metal was down in both September, the most recent month for which data are available, and the first nine months of 2001. In September machine tool consumption totaled $191.26 million, down 9.1% from $210.33 million in August, report the McLean, Va.-based AMT -- the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Assn., Rockville, Md. For the first nine months of 2001, consumption totaled $2.076 billion, down 33.2% from the $3.107 billion posted during the first three calendar quarters of 2000. The consumption data reflect gross new orders for domestic-made and imported machine tools and related equipment.