Electrical Marketing’s Key Economic Indicators

Nov. 18, 2011
Machine tool orders surge; architectural billings up a little; purchasing managers index down a little

ABI gains three points in October. After a sharp dip in September, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) climbed nearly three points in October. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C. reported the October ABI score was 49.4, following a score of 46.9 in September. This score reflects an overall decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.3, up from a reading of 54.3 the previous month.

“An increase in the billings index is always an encouraging sign,” said, Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. “But there continues to be a high level of volatility in the marketplace with architecture firms reporting a wide range of conditions from improving to uncertain to poor.”

PMI decreases in October. While still in growth territory at 50.8 percent, The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) published monthly by the Tempe, Ariz.-based Institute for Supply Management (ISM) decreased 0.8 percentage point from September’s reading of 51.6%.

“Comments from respondents are mixed, indicating positive relief from raw materials pricing and continuing strength in a few industries, but there is also more concern and caution about growth in this uncertain economy,” said Bradley Holcomb, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Machine-tool orders up big-time in September. Manufacturers invested in machine-tool orders at a near-record pace in September, according to the United States Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report published monthly by American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association and the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). September U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled $606.6 million, up 22.9% from August and up 51.9% when compared with the total of $399.32 million reported for Sept. 2010.

With a year-to-date total of $4.07 billion, 2011 is up 91.9% compared with 2010. “September numbers were the second highest monthly dollar total in the last 15 years,” said Peter Borden, AMTDA president. “American manufacturers are still rushing to beat the end-of-year bonus depreciation deadline.”