Business: First Down, Last Up

Machine-tool makers say their business is the "first to feel a recession, the last to recover." Back in January 1956—when the rest of the U.S. economy was still going up—machine-tool orders began skidding from their boom level of $125 million a month. Last week signs appeared that they were on the upturn again.

After bobbing around in the low $20 millions all winter, new domestic orders for metal-cutting and shaping tools briefly hit $29.8 million in March (caused by bunching up three large orders that normally would have been spread over a quarter), dropped to $20.8 million again in April, in May...

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