Custom injection molders’ machine-hour rates in the first half of 2010 showed their strongest performance since the same period in 2008.

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Custom injection molders’ machine-hour rates in the first half of 2010 showed their strongest performance since the same period in 2008. Our Hourly Rates Index rose 1.6%, five times the rate of increase in the previous two semi-annual surveys. Although 62% of respondents did not change their rates, 25% increased their rates, vs. 16% in each half of 2009.

Responses by 74 custom molders to our latest survey pointed to other signs of economic recovery. Their average capacity utilization jumped almost 8 percentage points to the highest level since the end of 2000 (see graph). The share of respondents whose operating rates rose during the first half was almost 59%, a 25-point jump since the end of 2009 and the highest percentage since 1983, when they were emerging from another recession. The proportion of respondents increasing their capacity utilization was almost three times the proportion (21%) experiencing lower utilization.

Molders’ optimism was high: Almost two-thirds saw business conditions improving in the short term, four times the proportion (16%) who foresaw weaker business ahead.

Another indicator is mold orders. The 44 mold shops reporting in this survey said new orders jumped 6% in the first half after 18 months of declines. It was the biggest jump since the same period of 2008.