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Metalworking Industry Grows in March

March’s metalworking business index (MBI) showed the fastest rate of growth for the industry since September 2011.
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With a reading of 57.0, the March MBI shows that the metalworking industry grew steadily faster in the first quarter of 2012. March’s index was the fastest rate of growth for the metalworking industry since September 2011.
 
The most significant contributors to the faster rate of growth were new orders, production and backlogs. The new order growth rate has increased sharply since December 2011, pushing the new orders index to its highest level since January 2011. The production index has also seen significant gains since the beginning of 2012. Production grew at its fastest rate since June 2011. As new order growth continued to outpace production growth, backlog growth increased.
 
Also contributing to the growth of the March MBI was the supplier deliveries index, which moved from 57.3 to 59.2. The lengthening supplier deliveries indicated strength throughout the manufacturing sector. The employment index grew for the 11th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in February. Also, with the dollar gaining on other world currencies, the export index contracted for the fifth time in the previous six months.
 

Future business expectations remained strong. The index showed metalworking facilities were slightly more optimistic about their business than they were the previous month. This continued the trend of improving business expectations that began in October 2011. Finally, the average spending on metalworking equipment for the next 12 months has improved since September 2011. This indicates that machine tool sales should remain strong for at least the next quarter or two.