ROCKVILLE, Md. - January U.S. machine tool consumption totaled $161.19 million, the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology jointly reported.

This figure was down 23.9 percent from December, but up 19.4 percent from $135.04 million estimated for January 2003, as reported by participating companies in the United States Machine Tool Consumption program.

"Orders for metalworking equipment were up in January from a year ago and the drop from December of 2003 can be attributable to strong orders due to companies taking advantage of tax incentives for year end," said AMTDA President Ralph Nappi. "This is quantifiable evidence the accelerated depreciation incentives put in place are indeed having an impact on spurring capital equipment purchases and a further indication that extending these incentives would be good for the overall economy, as well as U.S. manufacturing."

The USMTC report, compiled by the trade associations, provides regional and national U.S. consumption data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment. The data is seen as an economic forecast, since industries invest in equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.

Machine tool consumption was reported on a regional basis for five geographic areas of the United States. In the Northeast, January's consumption totaled $20.02 million, which is down 26.5 percent from December's $27.23 million, but 37.6 percent higher than January 2003.

Southern U.S., machine tool consumption was $21.10 million. This is 32 percent less than the previous month's $31.03 million, and down 22.4 percent compared to the same period one year ago.

In the Midwest, January's spending for machine tools dropped 19.8 percent at $68.77 million from the previous month's $85.76 million. The figure was a 10.3 percent drop from January 2003.

January's $24.05 million total in the West was 22.7 percent lower than December's $31.12 million and up 105.4 percent compared to January 2003.

In the Central U.S., the figure for January was $27.24 million, 25.5 percent less than December's $36.58 million, but 41.6 percent higher than the comparable year-ago figure.