The February‘10 Metalworking Business Index (MBI), published each month by Gardner Publications and Modern Machine Shop, showed the industry showed significant contraction from January after 6 months of expansion. The latest MBI ranking is 52.5, down from 63.6 one month prior.
Four of the main sub-indices - Production, New Orders, Employment and Backlogs - contributed most heavily to the contraction. While many survey respondants indicated strong optimism for future business expectations (75.0, down from 78.9 in January), the overall contraction may not bode well for the sector in the summer months.
The industry had shown other signs of recovery in Gardner's 2010 Capital Spending Survey & Forecast, released earlier in late '09. In it, custom parts manufacturers and shops indicated much stronger intentions to invest in machine tools and other related metalworking equipment in 2010. That survey, along with the previous 6 months of pronounced MBI expansion, mirrored the strong manufacturing resurgence reported across the media since the beginning of the year. However, the lastest MBI data may suggest a cooling down of the market momentum seen to date.