Published On: Tue, Sep 15th, 2015

US plastics machinery export on a rising curve

Export values of North American plastics machinery registered a solid rise in the second quarter of 2015, according to statistics compiled and reported by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

“The CES shipments data have steadily posted year-over-year gains in every quarter since 2010. This is a better performance than many other sectors of the US and global economy. US GDP will continue to grow at an annualized pace of at least 2% for the remainder of 2015, and the outlook is for accelerating growth in 2016. This bodes well for the plastics machinery markets because it will continue to generate rising aggregate demand,” said Bill Wood, the economic analyst who reports on the plastics machinery markets for the CES.

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US plastics machinery export on a rising curve

Exports of primary plastics equipment (injection molding, single-screw extrusion, twin-screw extrusion, and blow molding equipment) for reporting companies totaled US$303.5 million in the second quarter.

This was an increase of 5.5% from the shipments total of US$287.7 million in the first quarter of 2015, and it was a gain of 6.7% when compared with the shipments total from same quarter of a year ago.

For the year-to-date, the value of primary plastics equipment shipments is up 3.9 percent over last year.

A Year-on-Year (YOY) breakdown of the CES data shows that the shipments value of injection molding machinery escalated 3.9% in the second quarter; the shipments value of single-screw extruders slipped 1.5%; the value of shipments of twin-screw extruders (includes both co-rotating and counter-rotating machines) eked out a gain of 1%; shipment value of blow molding machines jumped 66.4%.

The CES also compiles data on the auxiliary equipment segment (robotics, temperature control, materials handling, etc.) of the US plastics machinery industry. New bookings of auxiliary equipment for reporting companies totaled US$121.4 million dollars in the second quarter. This was a jump of 12.4% when compared with the total from the same quarter of 2014.

The growth in the CES data on plastics machinery shipments was moderately slower than the YOY increase of 5.5% (seasonally-adjusted, annualized rate) in total business investment in industrial equipment (plastics machinery is a subset of this data) compiled and reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis as part of their quarterly GDP data release.

The second quarter gain in the CES shipments data was moderately stronger than the other major industrial machinery market indicator, compiled and reported monthly by the US Census Bureau, which showed that the total value of exports of industrial machinery increased by 2.4% YOY in the period (plastics machinery shipments are also a subset of this data).

“Despite the volatility in the stock market in recent weeks, the underlying fundamentals indicate that the recovery in the US economy is still intact. The plastics industry has been a growth leader for the US manufacturing sector throughout the recovery, and this will continue through the foreseeable future. Consumer confidence is rising, residential construction activity is accelerating, and stronger economic growth is expected for the rest of the year. Overall, we are reaping the benefits of low interest rates, low energy prices, and rising household incomes resulting from stronger employment levels. This is more than enough to offset the drag caused by weakness in the oil patch, a stronger dollar, and slower export demand,” said Mr Wood.

The CES also conducted a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. The responses from the second quarter survey indicate that machinery suppliers remain optimistic about the market demand for their products in the coming months.

Both in the coming quarter and during the next twelve months, 88% of the respondents expect conditions to either improve or hold steady. Quoting activity was higher in the second quarter for half of the survey participants.

North America and Mexico are the global regions where the survey respondents expect the most promising market conditions in the coming year. Expectations for Latin America are for mostly steady market conditions, while the outlook for Europe and Asia are steady-to-weaker.

When asked about their expectations for the major end-markets, the respondents indicated that automotive and packaging will remain strong in terms of demand for plastics products and equipment. Expectations for all other major end-markets call for firm market conditions to persist during the next 12 months.