US Nov machine tool demand off from Oct, year ago

WASHINGTON Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:00pm GMT

WASHINGTON Jan 11 (Reuters) - Demand for the machine tools that shape metal for products such as car engines and refrigerators fell in November and also from a year earlier, two groups said in a joint report on Sunday.

U.S. November machine tool demand fell 34.7 percent to $185.57 million from $284.27 million in October, the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association (AMTDA) and the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) said in a joint report.

November demand plunged 51.4 percent from $381.76 million a year earlier in November 2007.

October demand was revised upward, initially estimated at $273.85 million.

In the first 11 months of 2008, demand for machine tools, which gives a sense of the pace of manufacturing, stood at $4.004 billion, up 2.8 percent from $3.895 billion in the same 2007 period.

"The November numbers demonstrate the much publicized slowdown in manufacturing," AMTDA President Peter Borden said in a statement.

"We are not optimistic about the numbers improving quickly unless the new administration can create some confidence in the marketplace for all sectors of the U.S. economy," Borden added.

November demand for machine tools fell, from a month ago, in all regions included in the report. It plunged 59.3 percent in the West, 45.2 percent in the Central region and 32.3 percent in the Midwest.

Demand in November was down 19.9 percent in the Northeast and fell 4.5 percent in the South, the data showed.

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department said the U.S. December jobless rate reached 7.2 percent, the highest since January 1993. Total 2008 U.S. job losses, at 2.6 million, were the highest since 1945.

In that report, the government also said 149,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs were cut in December after losses of 104,000 in November and 123,000 in October. Average weekly hours for manufacturing jobs dipped to 39.9 in December from 40.3 the previous month.

The machine tools report is generally based on a survey of about 200 manufacturers, distributors and importers of machine tools that represent 76 percent of the machine tool market.

(Reporting by Melissa Bland; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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