Business Activity: Worst Is Over

47.5
Total Mold Business Index for July 2009
The total Mold Business Index is a weighted average of the sub-indices for new orders, production, employees, backlog, exports and supplier deliveries.

The Mold Business Index (MBI) for July, 2009 is 47.5. This is a 5.1-point decrease from the June value of 52.6, and it is exactly the same as the MBI value of 47.5 from July of last year. Except for shorter Supplier Delivery Times, all of the measures of business activity were flat-to-down when compared with the significant increase in activity levels during the previous month. The ongoing decline in Mold Prices was once again accompanied by a drop in Materials Prices. The Future Expectations component slipped to a less-than-optimistic level of 45.7 in July.

This decline in July MBI value mitigates, but does not completely offset the large gain in the MBI in June. And while it is still too early to predict that the mold industry has turned the corner towards recovery, the trend in the monthly data continues to indicate that the worst is now behind us. Thus, we still expect that demand for new molds will gradually improve during the coming months. A few respondents still report that quoting activity is noticeably higher, and several suggest that the credit crisis is gradually dissipating.

Manufacturing in the U.S. will rebound from double-digit percentage declines in each of the past three quarters, to a 3 percent increase in the third quarter of 2009. The rise will be spurred by a rebound in auto production. The recovery in manufacturing will broaden in the coming quarters as the aggressive pace of inventory liquidation is replaced by a need for firms to get production more into line with sales. Manufacturers are still cautious, but government policy has stabilized consumption and improved financial markets. So factory output will rise during the second half of this year and beyond.

The sub-index for New Orders of molds is a disappointing 41.3 for July. Production activity held steady, as the latest Production sub-index is exactly 50.0. The Employment component is 39.1 indicating that there was a decrease in overall payrolls in July. The Backlog component is 47.8 in July, which is modestly negative, but it is much better than it was last month. The Mold Prices sub-index for July is 30.4, and survey respondents reported that there is tremendous 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 43.5.

July 2009

%
Positive

%
Equal

%
Negative
Net % Difference
Sub-
Index
New Orders
30
22
48
-18
41.3
Production
39
22
39
0
50.0
Employment
22
34
44
-22
39.1
Backlog
39
17
44
-5
47.8
Export Orders
4
83
13
-9
45.7
Supplier Deliveries
22
78
0
22
60.9
Materials Prices
4
79
17
-13
43.5
Mold Prices
9
43
48
-39
30.4
Future Expectations
35
21
44
-9
45.7
table

 

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The total Mold Business Index is a weighted average of the sub-indices for new orders, production, employees, backlog, exports and supplier deliveries.