Both the metal machining and fabricating markets are showing an uptick in activity in the early part of 2023. PHOTO courtesy Dishon.
There are more positive signs for economic activity to start the year for metalworking. The Gardner Business Index for Metalworking in the U.S. closed at 50.6 in February — up two points versus January. Four of six components still contracted in February, but all of them moved in the right direction by contracting slower, Gardner reported.
“For new orders and exports, February marked the second straight month of at least a slight slowing of contraction. Not surprisingly, given the new orders trend, production and backlog got on board with slowing contraction in February as well. Employment activity and supplier deliveries were about the same in February as January, with employment growing a bit faster and supplier deliveries lengthening a bit slower,” Gardner commented, adding that the collective data call for cautious optimism.
The Gardner Business Index follows on the heels of February’s Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report for North American metal formers, which also had positive news. Metal forming companies anticipated an improvement in economic activity in the next three months, according to the report.
Of those surveyed, 18 percent predict an increase in general economic activity, up from 11 percent in January, while only 19 percent anticipate a decrease in activity, down notably from 30 percent in January. In addition, 38 percent expect an increase in incoming orders, compared to 25 percent in January, while 22 percent predict a decrease in orders, down from 26 percent in January.
And, following four straight months of decline, metal forming companies reported a spike in current average daily shipping levels in February, with 30 percent reporting an increase in shipping levels, up from 15 percent in January, while only 25 percent report a decrease, down from 43 percent in January.