2004 tool consumption in the United States totals $3 billion.

ROCKVILLE, Md. - U.S. machine tool consumption for 2004 totaled $3 billion, up 43.6 percent compared with 2003, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association.

Tool consumption for December 2004 totaled $314.47 million, up 9.8 percent from the previous month and 41.4 percent from December 2003.

"Investment in new machine tools during 2004 was strong, up 44 percent over 2003," said John G. Byrd III, AMT president. "December's spike in orders illustrates the incentive for renewing our productive assets created by the 50 percent expensing allowance. Allowing it to expire at the end of 2004 will damage American manufacturers' ability to remain competitive in an increasingly cost-conscious environment."

U.S. machine tool consumption was also tracked on a regional basis. The Northeast saw a $44.6 million total for December, up 22.1 percent from November, and 52.7 percent ahead of year-ago levels.

The South's tool consumption in December rose to $55.33 million, 13.6 percent ahead of November's $48.69 million and 69.1 percent higher than the December 2003 total.

At $119.43 million, the Midwest's December machine tool consumption was up 17.8 percent from November, and 32.6 percent higher than December 2003.

December machine tool consumption in the Central U.S. stood at $53.43 million, down 12.4 percent compared to November, but up 41.3 percent compared to December a year ago.

The West's tool consumption totaled $41.67 million, up 7.6 percent from November, and up 28.1 percent from December 2003.