CLEVELAND-Metalforming companies experienced a spike in shipping levels and expect business conditions to remain steady during the next three months, according to the April 1, 2006, Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) business conditions report. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 134 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

When asked what they expect the trend in general economic activity to be over the next three months, 56% of participants reported that business conditions will remain the same, up from 45% in March; 38% believe conditions will improve compared to 45% the previous month; and just 6% predict economic activity will decrease down from 10% in March.

Metalforming companies also expect incoming orders to remain steady during the next three months. Forty-two percent of respondents anticipate no change, up from 34% in March; 48% predict an increase in orders compared to 55% in March; and 10% forecast a decrease in orders down from 11% from March.

Current average daily shipping levels increased significantly in April. Sixty percent of companies reported that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago compared to 47% the previous month; 33% reported no change, down from 39% in March; and only seven percent reported that April shipping levels are below levels of three months ago compared to 14% in March.

The number of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff dropped to 8% in April-down from 10% in March. This is the lowest level since August 2000 when metalformers reported that only 7% of their workforce was on short time or layoff.

The monthly business conditions report has been conducted by PMA since 1979. Full report results are available at PMA is the trade association representing the $41-billion metalforming industry of North America-the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating and other value-added processes. Its nearly 1,200 member companies include metal stampers, fabricators, spinners, slide formers and roll formers, as well as suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. Members are located in 30 countries, with the majority found in North America.