Gardner Business Index: Precision Machining, March 2017 - 58.4

The precision machining index grew at an accelerating rate for the fifth straight month.

�

 

With a reading of 58.4, the Gardner Business Index showed that the precision machining index grew at an accelerating rate for the fifth straight month. The index has improved dramatically since July when it was only 43.0. In March, the index reached its second highest level ever, falling just short of the level in March 2012.

New orders grew for the sixth month in a row, hitting their second fastest rate of growth since December 2011. Production grew for the seventh month in a row and at its fastest rate ever. The backlog index increased for the fourth straight month. This was a strong indication that capacity utilization will increase in 2017. Employment increased for the fourth month in a row, although the rate of growth slowed slightly from last month. Exports contracted at their fastest rate since November 2014. Supplier deliveries lengthened at their fastest rate since April 2012.

Material prices have increased at a constant rate in 2017. The constant rate of growth in the first quarter of the year is slightly slower than the peak rate of increase material prices in June 2014. Prices received increased at a strong rate for the fourth month in a row. In February, the index reached its highest level since January 2012. Future business expectations remained strong with the index above 80 for the fourth month in a row.

Every region had an index of at least 54 in March. The North Central-West grew at the fastest rate in March with an index of 65.3. This was its fastest rate of growth since the survey began in December 2011. The South Central had an index more than 60 for the second straight month. These regions were followed by the West, Southeast, North Central-East, and Northeast.

Facilities with more than 250 employees grew for the third time in four months. Their rate of growth was the fastest since March 2012. Plants with 100-249 employees grew for the third time in four months. The index was above 63 each of the last two months. Plants with 50-99 employees had an index above 60 for the fourth consecutive month. Shops with 20-49 employees also had an index above 60 for the third month in a row. Shops with fewer than 20 employees expanded for the fifth month in a row and at their fastest rate since March 2012.