First, the good news: February orders for machine tools in the United States were up 5.7 percent from January.
And the not-so-good news: February's numbers are nearly 11 percent lower than they were in February 2012.
Orders for machine tools and other manufacturing machinery totaled $386 million in February, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology
. That's down from $431.6 million of orders in February 2012.
Through the first two months of 2013, U.S. machine-tool orders totaled $751 million, down nearly 12 percent year-over-year.
The numbers, however, do not come as a surprise to the Association for Manufacturing Technology.
"A year-to-date decline in orders compared to 2012 is in line with expectations we had for a slight slowdown in the first two quarters of 2013, though second-half growth is expected to offset the slump," said Douglas Woods, president of the trade association.
"This is in line with our economists' predictions that orders for 2013 will stay relatively flat compared to 2012."
Woods also noted that the uptick from January to February supports "some of the other recent economic data, including gains in both factory orders and durable-goods orders."
The data comes from companies participating in the association's "United States Manufacturing Technology Orders" report.
"Analysis of manufacturing-technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity," according to the association.