GBI: Moldmaking for December 2016 — 51.9

Index ends the year showing accelerating growth.

With a reading of 51.9, the Gardner Business Index showed that the moldmaking industry grew in December 2016 for the fourth time in five months, and that growth was at an accelerating rate in each of the last two months of the year.

New orders were flat, while production increased for the fourth time in five months. The production subindex has trended up since August 2015, and the backlog subindex, while still contracting, improved significantly for the second month in a row. Employment also increased for the second month in a row. The export index increased for the first time since December 2014. Supplier deliveries have lengthened at an accelerating rate since July 2016. 

Material prices increased at a significantly faster rate in December, having risen at nearly a straight line since July. This is their fastest rate of increase since November 2014. Prices received increased for the second time in four months. Future business expectations dipped slightly in the month after the huge jump due to the election results in November. The expectations subindex was still at its highest level since February 2014, however. 

Job shops expanded for the third time in four months. Their rate of growth in December was the fastest since November 2014. Custom processors increased for the eighth time in 10 months, and the aerospace subindex increased at an accelerating rate for the third straight month. Electronics posted an index of at least 55.0 for the fourth month in a row. 

Of all the regions of the country, the South Central grew at the fastest rate for the second month in a row. In both November and December, its index was above 60.0. The Southeast easily has been the strongest region for industry over the last 13 months, growing in 10 of those months. The North Central-East grew for the fourth time in five months, while the North Central-West grew for the first time since April 2016. 

Plants with more than 250 employees have grown at a very strong rate every month but two since February 2016. Facilities with 100-249 employees contracted for the third time in five months, while companies with 50-99 employees moved back into growth. Companies with 20-49 employees contracted for the second time in three months, and those with fewer than 20 employees expanded for the fourth time in five months.

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