Metalworking Index Turns Expansionary After 6-Month Slump
Index to report first expansion since May, driven by production and new orders.
Gardner Business Index: Metalworking
The Metalworking Index posted its first expansionary reading since June of 2019. The latest reading was supported by expanding production and new orders activity.
The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking began 2020 with a reading of 50.2 — its first expansionary reading since June 2019. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity. The further away a reading is from 50, the greater the magnitude of change in business activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index components observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by an expansion in production and new orders. No change in export activity and contractionary readings for supplier deliveries, employment and backlogs held the Index back, yet most components moved several points higher during the month. In fact, backlogs saw a seven-point increase while remaining below 50.
This decelerating contraction in backlog activity was welcomed news after reporting accelerating contraction since 2016. January’s expansion in both production and total new order activity coupled with no change in exports activity and a sharply slowing contraction in backlogs implied that domestic demand expanded and that metalworking manufacturers greatly slowed the pace at which they reduced their backlog levels.
Larger Firms Report Expanding Business Conditions, Others Slowing Decline
Firms in excess of 250 employees reported quickening expansion at the start of the year. Firms of all other sizes reported slowing contraction in total business activity.
January’s results indicated that firms of all size categories reported improved month-over-month readings for the first time since mid-2018. Large firms in excess of 250 employees reported accelerating business activity for a 37th consecutive month. Firms of all other sizes reported slowing deceleration in business activity during January with firms between 100-250 employees reporting the smallest amount of deceleration. In contrast, firms with fewer than 50 employees reported the most challenging business conditions.
Expansion of the Metalworking Index slowed in April, falling slightly to 62.2. Every component reported expanding activity, with the exception of exports.
With a reading of 43.2, Gardner’s Metalworking Business Index showed that the industry contracted in October for the seventh month in a row. While the index was slightly lower than it was in September, it has remained at virtually the same level for three months in a row.
Slow supply chains and rising prices are still challenges in the near-term.