Tool consumption up 9.9 percent for the month of May.

ROCKVILLE, Md. - U.S. machine tool consumption totaled $224.30 million in May, up 9.9 percent from the previous month, according to the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

The associations also report that May 2004's tool consumption was up 54.2 percent from the $145.42 million reported the previous year. The year-to-date total is $1.04 billion, up 46.1 percent compared with 2003.

"The manufacturing sector's confidence in the direction of our national economy continues to grow," said Ralph J. Nappi, president of the machine tool distributors group. "May machine tool consumption builds upon a six-month trend of strong capital investments made by U.S. manufacturers. All indications point to continued investment for the rest of the year, despite the machine tool industry's recent challenges of product supply."

Machine tool consumption was also reported on a regional basis. In the Northeast, machine tool consumption in May stood at $33.53 million, down 2.7 percent compared to April's $34.46 million, but up 74.8 percent when compared to last May.

Southern machine tool consumption for May totaled $25.66 million, down 4.2 percent from the April total of $26.79 million, but up 13 percent when compared to May a year ago.

Machine tool consumption in the Midwest was $98.79 million in May, 20.6 percent higher than April's $81.90 million and 63.8 percent higher than the total for May 2003.

Tool consumption for May in the Central U.S. totaled $42.97 million, up 23.3 percent compared to April's $34.84 million and up 46.8 percent when compared to May a year ago.

Finally, totaling $23.35 million, Western region machine tool consumption was off 10.6 percent compared to April's $26.13 million, but up 67.4 percent when compared to the previous May.