New manufacturing technology orders jumped more than 20% in December, though still less than the recent average for that month, and an overall disappointing year came to a close, according to a new report from the Association for Manufacturing Technology.
The calendar year wrapped up with order values growing 20.4% in December, just below the 22.4% average growth for that month the last five years. That marked the second-highest monthly orders total in 2015, behind only March. Overall, orders dropped 17.4% year-over-year.
“The fourth quarter turned out better than anticipated thanks to investment from the aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics industries,” AMT president Douglas K. Woods said. “But the overall market will remain flat through the first three quarters of this year, due to market forces like the strong dollar and low oil prices.”
The strong finish — though, again, not as strong as recent Decembers — does not change the AMT forecast for 2016, largely because orders rise at the end of the year as companies invest profits into new equipment and as suppliers aim to reduce inventory with discounted products.
AMT is still calling for 2016 new orders to finish about 3% ahead of 2015. Most of that growth is projected for the fourth quarter, on the back of the biannual International Manufacturing Technology Show, scheduled for Sept. 12-17 in Chicago.
As for December, AMT closes the book on what was ultimately a down year with some help from Congress — its two-year budget deal temporarily lifts automatic spending cuts, with federal defense programs intact through 2017 — as well as, surprisingly, the aforementioned consumer electronics sector.
Manufacturing technology orders totaled $401.16 million for the month, compared to $511.10 million for December 2014, down 21.51%. The year finished with $4.187 billion in orders, compared to $5.072 in 2014, down 17.45%.