In September, the machining industry responded well to lower oil and other commodity prices. And if lower inflation allows restraint by the Federal Reserve, renewed manufacturing growth is likely, says Harry Moser, president of machine tool company Agie Charmilles Corp. (www.charmillesus.com).
Charmilles' Machining Business Activity Index rose to 63 in September from 54 in August. The index stems from surveying machine tool users concerning their current business level versus three months earlier. Any reading above 50 indicates that business activity has improved.
Improvement in business activity was strongest in electrical discharge machining job shops and plastic injection mold sectors and in the West region. The approximately 126,000 U.S. companies using machine tools have about 2 million machines and 750,000 to 1,000,000 directly related employees (toolmakers, machinists, operators, programmers and others). Almost all mid-size to large manufacturing companies use, and periodically purchase or lease, machine tools. Such activity provides timely insight into the condition of U.S. manufacturing.