Precision Machining Index Grew for the Fourth Straight Month in February

The index has improved dramatically since July, when it was only 43.0, compared with February's index, which was 57.7.

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With a reading of 57.7, the Gardner Business Index showed that the precision machining index grew at an accelerating rate for the fourth straight month. The index has improved dramatically since July, when it was only 43.0. In January, the index reached its highest level since March 2012, which was its highest level ever.

New orders grew for the fifth month in a row. The rate of growth was slightly slower than the previous month. Production grew for the sixth month in a row. The backlog index increased at an accelerating rate for the third straight month, reaching its highest level since January 2014. This was a strong indication that capacity utilization will increase this year. Employment increased for the third month in a row and at the fastest rate since June 2014. Exports were flat, which was the first time they did not contract since March 2014. Supplier deliveries continued to lengthen. 

Material prices increased at a similar rate to the previous month, which was almost the fastest rate since the survey began. Prices received increased at a strong rate for the third 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 third month in a row.

The Southeast and South Central region both had an index of 60.1 in February. This was the fastest rate of growth for the Southeast since the survey began in December 2011. For the South Central region, it was the third time in four months the region had an index above 60. Every other region had an index of at least 56.6. From fastest to slowest, the other regions were the West, North Central-East, Northeast, and North Central-West.

Facilities with more than 250 employees contracted after two months of growth, but this was based on a small sample. Plants with 100-249 employees grew for the second time in three months. February was their only month with an index above 60. Plants with 50-99 employees had an index above 60 for the third consecutive month. Shops with 20-49 employees also had an index above 60 for the second month in a row, while February saw their fastest growth since the survey began. Shops with fewer than 20 employees expanded for the fourth month in a row and at their fastest rate since March 2012.  

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