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June 2017 Gardner Business Index Plastics: 52.7

Plastics Processors’ Index up by more than 12% vs. last June. Custom processors are humming along.


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The plastics industry as a whole expanded at a slower rate in June than in May, according to monthly research conducted by Gardner Business Intelligence. Comparing June 2017 with June 2016, the overall Plastics Business Index, which includes processors, suppliers, and OEMs, was up 12.6%, thanks to significant improvement in backlogs, production, and new orders.

Drilling down, the index for custom processors, at 53, closely matches the data from the industry overall (see Fig. 1). The index for custom processors has been above 50 all year.

In the first-half of 2017, the production component of the overall index averaged 59.7 as compared to 51.4 for the same period one year ago. The total change in production appears to be largely driven by very strong growth in new orders combined with mildly contracting exports. To keep perspective, the contraction in exports during the first-half of 2017 has been far milder than the contraction experienced in the same period one year ago.

The gap in the index values for material prices and prices received, a trend first witnessed in early 2016, continued through the first half of 2017 (see Fig. 2). The diver- gence in these indexes reached its apogee in March 2017. By comparison, the index for prices received has largely remained stable in the year-to-date period, moving in a narrow range of between 52 and 56, indicating consistent but mild growth in pricing power for processors.

Michael Guckes is the chief economist for Gardner Business Intelligence, a division of
Gardner Business Media, Cincinnati. He has performed economic analysis, modeling and forecasting work for nearly 20 years among a wide range of industries. Michael received his BA in political science and economics from Kenyon College and his MBA from Ohio State University. Contact: (513) 527-8800;;