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Good third quarter breeds optimism.

Good Third Quarter Breeds Optimism

Thirty percent of the 435 custom processors responding to PLASTICS TECHNOLOGY's latest quarterly survey felt that business conditions were turning upward at the start of the fourth quarter. A total of 57% commented either favorably or optimistically about business conditions, while 38% viewed the climate negatively or pessimistically. The optimism/pessimism balance had declined slightly from the big surge at the start of the third quarter, but was still much better than it had been for three quarters before that.

For the second consecutive three-month period, custom processors averaged a one-point increase in machine capacity utilization. Custom injection molders were up two points, but still well below the mid-70s range that spells good times. Custom extrusion gained only one point, balancing a sharp upsurge for film and sheet against declines for pipe, tubing and profiles. Operating rates in custom blow molding and thermoforming rose the most. Only compression/transfer saw continuing fall-off in capacity utilization.

As in the previous period, more processors saw their capacity utilization increase than decrease in the third quarter, and the margin between them grew, also. The same was true of plants that added days or shifts to their workweek vs. those who shortened their workweek.

Although New England suffered depressed operating rates in the recent past, it scored the highest capacity utilization for custom injection molders and for all custom processors. The South Central region was lowest for custom injection, and the West took last place for custom processing generally.

TOOL ORDERS DOWN AGAIN

New orders for molds and dies (a leading indicator for plastics) declined for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to 222 tool shops in the latest survey. On the other hand, the decline (averaging together the changes in units and dollar value of tool orders) may be bottoming out, since the drop has now eased for two quarters running.

PHOTO : ALL CUSTOM UTILIZATION

PHOTO : CUSTOM BLOW MOLDING

PHOTO : CUSTOM INJECTION

PHOTO : CUSTOM THERMOFORMING

PHOTO : CUSTOM EXTRUSION

PHOTO : COMPRESSION/TRANS

PHOTO : CUSTOM PROCESSING ACTIVITY

PHOTO : TOOLING ORDERS-QUARTERLY CHANGE
COPYRIGHT 1991 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:plastics industry
Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:340
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