Domestic manufacturers purchased $197.6 million worth of cutting tools during March, a 9.8% increase over February’s consumption total and a 4.6% year-over-year increase versus the March 2014 figure. The data is reported jointly by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT–the Association for Manufacturing Technology in their monthly Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR.)

The CTMR is based on actual data collected from cutting tool manufacturers and distributors participating in the program, who represent about 80% of the U.S. market for cutting tools. The reports’ sponsors note that cutting tools are high-value, high-volume consumable products, the consumption of which parallels manufacturing activity in the wider economy.

“As we close the first quarter of 2015, strong cutting tool shipments in March prove that this year’s economic outlook remains solid for our industry,” observed Brad Lawton, chairman of AMT’s Cutting Tool Product Group.

“This increase is on track with the positive trend in machine tool orders and durable goods manufacturing. There is a possible caution in the Industry regarding the increasing value of the dollar and the potential impact on exports,” Lawton added.

Cutting tools purchases differ from machine tool purchases — which is tracked by AMT’s monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report — in that the latter is a leading indicator of manufacturers’ plans, while the former represents current manufacturing activity.

In the latest USMTO report, domestic manufacturers and distributors of machine tools recorded new orders totaling $399.83 million during March, the first monthly increase for 2015 though the year-on-year comparison shows a -18.7% deficit versus the March 2014 figure.