Gardner Business Index: Metalworking Extends Its Consistent Growth Pattern
The metalworking index records the fourth month of very consistent expansion.
The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking was unchanged from the prior month, sustaining a reading of 53.6 in March. The latest data extend the recent trend of slower growth readings first experienced in November. Readings above 50 indicate business activity expansion while readings below 50 indicate business activity contraction. The latest reading is 10.4 percent lower than it was in March 2018, when the Index was near its all-time high.
Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data for the month observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by supplier deliveries, new orders, production and employment. Export and backlogs lowered the Index for the second consecutive month, with backlogs contracting faster than exports.
New orders rebounded from February, when the component registered its lowest reading since late 2016. This coupled with a fourth consecutive month of contracting exports resulted in a significant draw down in backlogs. For the month, the backlog component further contracted to its lowest reading in more than two years.
Moving counter to the weakness in exports and backlogs, supplier deliveries and production continued to register business activity at levels reminiscent of those experienced earlier in the business cycle. Employment activity also expanded at levels consistent with those reported earlier in the current cycle. Strong employment readings often indicate a positive mid- to long-range outlook for the industry due to the time and resources required to find and train talent.
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