GBI: Moldmaking for October 2016 - 46.1

Medical, electronics and aerospace markets see growth amid contraction.


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With a reading of 46.1, the Gardner Business Index showed that the moldmaking industry contracted in October after two months of growth, falling to its lowest level since January. The September index was the highest since June 2014.

The new orders subindex, which also reached its highest level in more than 18 months in September, likewise contracted in October to its lowest level since January. The production subindex contracted too, but this drop was not nearly as great as the one in new orders. Also, the trend in the production subindex was still rising, which has been the case since September 2015. The backlog subindex was unchanged in September at its highest level in nearly two months, but this subindex contracted in October, falling to its lowest level since January. Employment contracted for the first time since February. Exports were flat in September and contracted in October, but this subindex has trended up since April. Supplier deliveries have lengthened in four of the last five months.

Material prices have increased since February, and in October they increased at the second fastest rate since November 2014. After one month of increasing, prices received decreased again. Future business expectations improved less for the second month in a row, however they have been trending up since January.

Job shops expanded in September for the first time in more than a year, but in October they fell back into contraction. This subindex had been trending up since July, and it could be argued that it actually had been doing so since January. Custom processors contracted for the second time in five months, but in both months the rate of contraction was minimal. The medical industry has grown significantly since March, and electronics and aerospace were also growing in October. Automotive contracted for the third month in a row, however.

Every region contracted in October. The Southeast contracted at a minimal rate, but it has expanded nine of the last 12 months; the Northeast also contracted at a minimal rate, but has grown four of the last six months. The North Central-East and North Central-West have contracted most of the last six months, while the West contracted at its fastest rate in at least the last two years. The South Central has improved, but was still contracting in October.

Companies with more than 250 employees expanded for the fourth straight month. In fact, they have grown 20 of the last 24 months. Plants with 100-249 employees contracted for the third time in five months, and their index has trended down since June 2015. The index at facilities with 50-99 employees has dropped sharply since May, contracting two of the last three months. Companies with 20-49 employees contracted twice in the last four months, and while companies with fewer than 20 employees contracted in October after two months of growth, their index has climbed noticeably since January.