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Gardner Business Index: Metalworking Extends Its Consistent Growth Pattern

Posted by: 12. April 2019
GBI Metalworking

March’s data extended the trends witnessed in prior months. Supplier deliveries, production, new orders and employment continue to expand at slowing rates while backlogs and exports contract.

 

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking was unchanged from the prior month, sustaining a reading of 53.6 in March. The latest data extend the recent trend of slower growth readings first experienced in November. Readings above 50 indicate business activity expansion while readings below 50 indicate business activity contraction. The latest reading is 10.4 percent lower than it was in March 2018, when the Index was near its all-time high.

Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data for the month observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by supplier deliveries, new orders, production and employment. Export and backlogs lowered the Index for the second consecutive month, with backlogs contracting faster than exports.

New orders rebounded from February, when the component registered its lowest reading since late 2016. This coupled with a fourth consecutive month of contracting exports resulted in a significant draw down in backlogs. For the month, the backlog component further contracted to its lowest reading in more than two years.

GBI Metalworking details

Exports have contracted in six of the last seven months, however, new orders readings (which represent total metalworking manufacturing orders activity) have expanded every month since October of 2016. This indicates that domestic orders through March have more than offset weak foreign orders.

 

Moving counter to the weakness in exports and backlogs, supplier deliveries and production continued to register business activity at levels reminiscent of those experienced earlier in the business cycle. Employment activity also expanded at levels consistent with those reported earlier in the current cycle. Strong employment readings often indicate a positive mid- to long-range outlook for the industry due to the time and resources required to find and train talent.

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