17 January 2008 19:55 [Source: ICIS news]
The Manufacturers Alliance said its quarterly survey of member firms - chiefly US-based and international companies - shows a December 2007 composite index of 64%, virtually unchanged from the index levels reported in September and June.
The group’s composite index combines results of survey data in ten areas of manufacturing business, including exports, investments, capacity utilization, research and development (R&D) spending, inventory and orders, among others.
A composite index above 50% “indicates that overall manufacturing activity is expected to increase over the next three to six months”, according to the alliance.
“In something of a surprise in the midst of recent negative economic data, six of the ten factors measured by the quarterly survey were higher [in December] than the September 2007 report,” the alliance said.
The group said its survey measure of export orders reached an all-time high of 80% for the fourth quarter 2007, surpassing the previous high of 79% recorded in June and well above the 75% shown in September.
“The rise in export orders suggests that slower growth in domestic markets is being partly offset by continued growth abroad,” the alliance said.
The investment index, which measures manufacturing executives’ expectations of capital spending in 2008 compared with last year, rose to 74% in December from the 62% reported in September.
The percentage of firms operating above 85% of production capacity rose to 46.4% in December from 41.7% in September and remained well above the long-term average of 33%, the group said.
“The continued strength of these indexes and the rise in others - notably exports, investments, backlog orders and capacity utilisation - contrasts with recent economic reports suggesting the
“The optimism revealed in this quarter’s survey may reflect that most survey respondents are with global manufacturers whose fortunes are determined by economic trends abroad as well as those in the
The 450 member firms of the alliance include a number of chemicals manufacturers.
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