By John S. McClenahen The latest data on U.S. machine tool consumption aren't signaling the beginning of capital-spending surge. But neither do they reflect continued cutbacks. Machine tool consumption in October, the most recent month for which statistics are available, was $186.93 million, just a tiny fraction below the $186.95 million recorded for September, report the Rockville, Md.-based American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the McLean, Va.-based AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology. During October 2002 consumption of metal-cutting machine tools fell 7.5% to $160.75 million, while consumption of metal-forming machine tools nearly doubled, rising 99.2% to $26.18 million. Consumption for the first 10 months of 2002 remains well below 2001's figure, however. From January through October of this year, U.S. machine tool consumption was $1.724 billion, 26.6% below the $2.349 billion recorded for the first 10 months of 2001.