GBI: Moldmaking for April 2017 - 54.0

Growth is decelerating, but it is still the fastest it has been in three years.

With a reading of 54.0, the Gardner Business Index showed that the moldmaking industry grew in April for the eighth time in nine months, although this was the second month in a row that the rate of growth decelerated. This rate of growth still was nearly the fastest it has been in three years. 

New orders increased for the fourth month in a row, with a subindex hovering around 60 for the third straight month. Production also increased for the fifth month in a row. Since September 2015 production has seen quite a few peaks and valleys, but the overall trend in the production subindex continued to climb. The backlog index grew for the fourth month in a row, a trend that clearly indicates increasing capacity utilization in 2017. Employment increased for the sixth straight month. The export subindex contracted for the fourth month in a row, and its rate of contraction has accelerated through the first four months of this year. Supplier deliveries lengthened for ninth month in a row. 

Material prices continued to increase in April at a significant rate, although the rate of increase was unchanged from March. Since February, the material prices subindex has been at its highest level since March 2013. Prices received increased for the sixth time in eight months, although this subindex dropped significantly in April. Future business expectations remained quite strong with a subindex hovering around 80 for the sixth consecutive month. 

Job shops expanded for the seventh time in eight months, although the rate of growth decelerated for the second month in a row. Custom processors have grown every month but two since March 2016, and in each of the last four months this subindex was at least 54.7. 

The South Central was the fastest growing region by quite a lot for the second month in a row, posting a subindex of 66.3 in April and 72.2 in March. The Southeast, North Central-East and North Central-West each had indexes above 56.0, but the West and Northeast continued to contract.

Plants with more than 250 employees have grown at a very strong rate every month but two since February 2016, posting a subindex above 60 for the third consecutive month. Facilities with 100-249 employees grew for the fourth straight month, and April’s growth was the fastest of those four months. Companies with 50-99 employees expanded for the fifth month in a row, while shops with 20-49 employees contracted for the first time this year. Companies with fewer than 20 employees expanded for the eighth time in nine months.

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