Economic News Blog
Posted by: Steven Kline, Jr. 12. February 2014

Machine Tool Sales Make Big Jump in December - Up 13.8%

According to USMTO, machine tool sales in December were 2,611 units and $477,168,000 in real dollars. Unit sales in December were 13.8% higher than they were last December. This is the fastest rate of month-over-month growth in unit sales since February 2012. Also, this is the second most units sold in a single non-IMTS month since September 2011. In 2013, unit sales increased 0.6%.

Real dollar sales also increased significantly in December. The month-over-month rate of growth was 11.9%. It is the second month in a row that real dollar sales have increased compared to one year ago. In 2013, real dollar sales finished the year lower by 5.4%. 

The average price of a machine continues to contract, falling 1.7% compared to last December. However, that is the slowest rate of month-over-month contraction since April 2013. This represents an improvement in the trend of the average price of a machine, which indicates that real dollar machine tool sales should improve in 2014.

My original forecast for 2013 was too high by just 5.0%. That makes 2013's forecast my most accurate in my six years of forecasting unit sales. It would have been more accurate except that I forecasted the upturn to start in the third quarter instead of the fourth quarter. 

Almost all of the leading indicators for machine tool sales are pointing towards stronger sales in 2014. The trend in the leading indicators along with the strong sales from the fourth quarter of 2013 have caused me to increase my forecast for 2014 by about 1,000 units, or roughly 4%. I think that unit sales will grow at an accelerating rate through IMTS in September. After that the rate of growth will likely slow down because of the slowing growth in the money supply due to the Fed's tapering. Therefore, I'm forecasting unit sales to increase by 2.7% in 2014.

You can find more on machine tool sales and the leading indicators on our metalworking and monetary pages.

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