For the second month in a row, our survey of the North American moldmaking industry indicates that overall activity levels increased in March. The Moldmaking Index for March 2013 is 51.5 (a value greater than 50.0 indicates an increase in business levels for the month). The latest index value is a 0.2-point increase from the February value of 51.3, but it is a 4.6-point decrease from the 56.1value posted in March 2012.
A moderate rise was reported in the New Orders category for the third consecutive month, and the Production category also registered a third straight monthly increase. Supply conditions, as measured by the Supplier Delivery Times and Materials Prices components, were once again the most notable negative factors in the index this month. Supplier delivery times continue to get longer, and materials prices have increased for 16 months in a row. Prices Received were steady-to-lower. Future Expectations changed very little and remain optimistic.
The New Orders component came in at 52.6 in the latest month. The domestic manufacturing sector lost a little momentum in March, but the overall uptrend remains intact for now. This month’s gain in new orders was not strong enough to expand the industry’s Backlogs in March. The Backlog sub-index slipped to 45.2 for the month. The Production sub-index of 51.9 indicates that work levels held steady when compared with the previous month. The Employment component is 54.8, which means that payrolls were higher for the third straight month.
The prices received in the moldmaking sector weakened a bit in March. The Prices Received sub-index for March is 49.4. This ended a two-month streak of moderately rising prices received. The upward momentum in the sub-index for Materials Prices eased back this month to 67.9. So materials prices are still going higher, just not quite as rapidly as they jumped up in the previous month. Supplier Delivery Times are getting longer, and this component escalated to 56.5 in March. Offshore orders extended their downward trend last month, but the pace of decline remains moderate. The Exports sub-index is 48.0.
This Index is based on a monthly survey of subscribers to MoldMaking Technology magazine. Using the data from this survey, Gardner Research calculates a diffusion index based on 50.0. A value above 50.0 for the index indicates that business activity expanded when compared with the previous month, and a value below 50.0 means that business levels declined.