Stop the presses…hold the phones…listen, and listen tight…The Mold Business Index (MBI) for June, 2009 is 52.6. This is a 10.9-point increase from the May value of 41.7, and it is 9.9 points higher than the MBI value of 42.7 from June of last year. Except for Backlogs, all areas of business activity were steady-to-better when compared with the previous month. The downtrend in Mold Prices continued, but at least it was accompanied by a corresponding drop in Materials Prices. The Future Expectations component jumped up to an optimistic level of 63.2 in June.
This is the first significant monthly increase in the MBI in almost two years. And while it is still too early to predict that the mold industry has turned the corner (one month’s data does not necessarily represent a trend), there is strong evidence to suggest that the worst is now behind us. Many respondents reported that quoting activity is noticeably higher, and several suggested that they expect new orders to increase as the credit crisis dissipates.
After a very disappointing first half of the year, total U.S. manufacturing will resume growth by the fourth quarter of 2009. This will be driven in large part by rising auto production and widespread inventory adjustment. Chrysler and General Motors plants are scheduled to reopen after the shutdowns this summer. Production will also rise because many manufacturers have recently cut their inventories to a level that is below the real level of demand for their products.
The sub-index for New Orders of molds is a solid 55.3 for June. Gains in the total MBI depend on increases in new orders of molds, so we will carefully monitor this component to make sure that the expected increase in momentum is realized. Production activity also increased, as the latest Production sub-index is 52.6. The Employment component is 50.0. This means that there was no net change in overall payrolls in June. The Backlog component is 39.5 in June, which is still negative, but it is much better than it was just a month earlier.
The Mold Prices sub-index for the latest month is 36.8, and survey respondents reported that there remains pressure from customers to lower the price of new molds. The prices paid for materials were lower, as the latest sub-index for Materials Prices is 39.5. Supplier Delivery Times continue to get shorter, as this sub-index posted a value of 63.2. There was a small increase in the number of offshore orders for new molds, as the Export Orders sub-index is 55.3.