Gardner’s February metalworking index showed the industry was flat through February, dropping 0.1 points from January to a reading of 49.6.
Although this slight dip preserves a Metalworking Business Index (MBI) reading under 50, which divides contraction and expansion, both the January and February 2013 readings showed considerable improvement over the 6 months of significant contraction experienced during the second half of calendar 2012. The December 2012 reading of 44.8 was the first sign of the slowing of contractions, while the January 2013 reading of 49.7 and the February 2013 reading of 49.6 represent a hold on contraction or growth.
New metalworking orders grew at a slower rate than in January and production grew at an accelerated rate in February, which Modern Machine Shop (MMS) notes is a healthy sign for future industry growth. Two important factors stagnating metalworking growth are the contraction of backlogs and exports. Exports have been contracting for 15 months as the dollar appreciated during the majority of 2012.
MMS noted that most industrial regions are experiencing growth, with the highest rate of expansion in the South Atlantic; the fastest contractions were experienced in East North Central.
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