With a reading of 51.0, the Gardner Business Index showed that the moldmaking industry grew in November for the third time in four months, although November’s rate of growth was the slowest of those three growth months. Despite this slightly slower growth, the industry grew in these four months at its fastest rate since late 2014 and early 2015.
New orders contracted for the second consecutive month, but the contraction in November was notably slower than in October. Production increased significantly in three of the previous four months. While the backlog index was flat in September, it contracted notably in October and November. Employment has increased eight of the last nine months. Like backlogs, exports were flat in September and contracted the following two months. Supplier deliveries, which lengthened in five of the previous six months, lengthened in November at their fastest rate since December 2014.
The material prices index has increased steadily since January 2015 and in November increased at its fastest rate since November 2014. Prices received decreased at a minimal rate in October and November. Future business expectations skyrocketed in November, jumping more than 15 points to 80.8, which was its highest level since the survey began in December 2011. Given the proximity of surveying to the presidential election, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the moldmaking industry is bullish on President-elect Donald Trump.
Job shops expanded in November for just the second time in three years, while custom processors increased for the seventh time in nine months. The aerospace index increased for the second month in a row, and other manufacturing, which includes general consumer goods, has grown nine of the previous 10 months. The electronics index also has increased three months in a row. Each of these industries have recorded strong growth over these time periods. The automotive index, on the other hand, was flat after three months of contraction. This index has posted just one month of growth since March 2016. The medical index also contracted for the first time since February 2016.
The South Central region grew at the fastest rate in November, posting an index of at least 60 for the second time in four months. The Southeast easily has been the strongest industry over the previous 12 months, growing in nine of those months. The North Central-East grew for the third time in four months, while the West was flat, and the Northeast contracted for the second month in a row. The North Central-West has contracted since April 2016.
Plants with more than 250 employees contracted for the first time since June 2016, while those with 100-249 employees grew for the second time in three months. Companies with 50-99 employees contracted for the second month in a row. Facilities with 20-49 employees have grown four times in the previous six months, while those with fewer than 20 employees expanded for the third time in four months.