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ECONOMIC NEWS - USA & JAPAN

USMTO and CTMR, March 2022:  The US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks orders in the US market, based on the reports from participants.  Each of the first three months of the year have been excellent and the total for the 1st quarter as a whole is +26.5% higher than the same period in 2021 and the strongest start to any calendar year since 1998.

It is also worth remembering that these are orders so, subject to supply side constraints, it point to a record year for machine tool sales in the USA.  This is also slightly surprising given that the US economy overall contracted in the 1st quarter.  Perhaps inevitably given that this strong demand cycle ahs been running for well over a year now from the pandemic generated low point, some slowing in growth is expected over the Summer but should pick-up again in the Autumn with IMTS taking place in September.

Looking at the regional results, we have to focus on metal cutting machines only, although this is not really a problem given that they accounted for almost 98% of orders tracked by the survey.  This shows growth of over 70% in both the South-East and South-Central areas, more than 40% in the West and double-digit increases in both the North-Central-West and North-East regions;  the North-Central-East was the weakest in terms of growth at +6% and this is significant as this is the largest market of the six regions.

The US Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR) tracks orders for tooling on a similar basis;  in the 1st quarter of 2022, demand has increased by +11% compared to the same period in 2021 but is still a little below the Q1-20 total (just before the Covid pandemic struck in the US).  The tooling market has taken longer to accelerate for a variety of reasons and the 12-month rolling total is only at its highest since July 2020 at just over $2 billion – this compares to the most recent peak of around $2½ billion that we saw in 2019.  Having said that, the total for March was the highest monthly rate since October 2019 so it is not all bad news.

You can download the press releases for the two surveys from the AMT web-site at www.amtonline.org/topic/intelligence, with the CTMR release also published on the USCTI web-site at www.uscti.com;  alternatively, you can request either or both releases from MTA and we can make sure you get them when they are published each month.

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Japanese Machine Tool Manufacturers Orders, 1st Quarter 2022:  The Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association (JMTBA), which represents manufacturers of metal cutting machine tools (there is a separate association for forming machine makers), publishes monthly figures for orders and sales, with the former split between home and export business.  The orders data is more detailed so we will focus on that.

In the 1st quarter of 2022, total orders for Japanese manufacturers increased by +3.3% compared to the previous quarter and were +39.1% higher than a year earlier.  Domestic orders, which accounted for 34% of the total grew by +1.2% and +57.4% respectively while export orders were up by +4.4% and +31.2% on the two comparisons.

Individually, the totals for March were very strong with total orders in that month at their highest since March 2018 with the same mark being reached for export orders;  orders from Japanese customers were at their highest since September 2018.

The JMTBA report includes a breakdown of domestic orders by industry;  the largest category was industrial machinery which accounted for just over 40% of domestic metal cutting machine orders in Q1-22 although this only saw growth of +3% compared to the previous quarter.  The strongest growth for this period came from the electrical machinery (+21%) and precision machinery (+14%) industries.

For more details, you can download the JMTBA report from their website at https://www.jmtba.or.jp/english/category/machine-tool-orders/ (April 28, 2022) or request it from MTA.