We view this pattern as indicative of their slowly increasing optimism about the future. Each month of the quarter showed sequential increases in orders and while it is obviously too early to declare that the European market has turned, we're more optimistic than we were just 3 months ago.
Meanwhile, paper production tonnage in North America decreased just slightly, but our orders remain well ahead of a good 2011 fourth quarter for both Rolled and Paper Machine Clothing. In North America, PMC orders increased more than 30% and roll orders increased 14.5% from the fourth quarter of 2011.
In South America, our deliveries remain subdued due to low backlogs for domestic consumption. However, once again, new orders for Paper Machine Clothing improved more than 20% from the fourth quarter of 2011 while Rolls remained flat. We believe this market behavior is consistent with our internal outlook for the second half of 2012 being much better than the first half of the year.
Sales continue to be solid in Asia. Rolls were strong, but PMC was a little softer than expected as China's slowing growth rate made itself evident. This actually helped our margins as we earn more on Asian rolls produced and sold than Asian PMC. Meanwhile, Asian PMC orders increased month-over-month throughout the quarter. Of course, orders were also slowed in the first quarter of 2012 as China celebrated its New Year's holiday. And also as a consequence of our major Japanese customers who pre-ordered in last year's fourth quarter for the resumption of production in mills damaged by the tsunami last year.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com
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