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Casting shipments remain strong.

A review of casting shipments during the first quarter of 1999 indicates that a slowdown is taking place and probably will continue into 2000. Stratecasts' annual forecast, released by AFS in December, predicted a minimal slowdown following a peak in 1998.

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Stratecasts' ongoing interviews with casting users and econometric experts who have been analyzing the first quarter of 1999 indicate that many market sectors continue to strengthen while others are slowing. Though export conditions continue to suffer from the downturns in the Asian and South American economies, we are now forecasting another strong year in casting sales, ending only slightly below 1998 levels.

Motor vehicle production in the first quarter continued strong, with an overall increase of 5% in light vehicle production. Medium to heavy truck sales also had a good first quarter and were up more than 20% compared with the first quarter of 1998. based on a projected leveling of this market, the truck forecast, which had called for a downturn, could level off and match the peak in 1998. Iron and aluminum casting demand in motor vehicles remains high and is forecast to continue strong in the second quarter.

Housing starts in the first quarter were up 13% over the first quarter of 1998. The housing sector is expected to slow during the next three quarters and end the year just slightly better than 1998 as interest rates increase.

Construction also continues strong, spurring construction equipment sales, though the decline in exports is expected to slow overall growth in this market sector throughout 1999. The rise in oil prices is expected to stimulate oil equipment production during the remainder of this year.

Freight car production continues strong and another year of near 70,000 car set production is predicted.

Gray Iron

The original forecast for gray iron shipments, which appeared in the 1999 AFS Metalcasting Forecast and Trends report, has been increased by 1%, as shown in Table 1. For the first time, the new North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) also is given for each market sector along with the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). Overall, gray iron shipments in 1999 are forecast to drop 2.8% to 6 million tons in the U.S.

Ductile Iron

Total shipments of ductile iron are expected to decrease 1.5% in 1999 to 4.1 million tons in the U.S., as shown in Table 2.

Steel Railroad Market

Based on the continued strength in the railroad industry, steel castings are expected to maintain high production levels in 1999, though a loss of 7% is forecast. This will drop total steel casting shipments to 1.5 million tons. Table 3 depicts the newly revised forecast for 1999, and Table 4 is a breakdown of the revised forecast for all steel casting shipments for 1999.

Aluminum Growth

Aluminum die casting shipments are forecast to exceed 1998 figures by 4%, growing to 1.1 million tons, as shown in Table 5.

Aluminum casting use in motor vehicles is forecast to reach an average of 180 lb/vehicle with die castings comprising 57% of that figure. Diecast parts in motor vehicles are expected to grow to 606,000 tons in 1999.

Aluminum castings made in permanent molds and sand molds are forecast to reach 768,000 tons in 1999, a 4.5% increase over the 1998 shipments, as shown in Table 6.

Copper Alloy Valves

Shipments of brass and bronze valve castings are expected to decline 4% to 314,000 tons in 1999, a loss of 4.3% compared with 1998 figures. Table 7 shows the actual 1998 shipments as well as a revised forecast for 1999.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Metal Casting Trends
Comment:Casting shipments remain strong.(Metal Casting Trends)
Author:Kirgin, Kenneth H.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:Industry Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Words:648
Previous Article:Innovation trumps price.
Next Article:Vacuum process produces thin-wall iron castings.
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