North American shipments of primary plastics machinery declined in the first quarter, according to figures released June 3 by the Plastics Industry Association's Committee on Equipment Statistics.
The preliminary estimate of the shipments value for injection molding and extrusion equipment in the first quarter was $273 million, nearly 28 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the association. Injection molding shipments fell 26.3 percent, while single-screw and twin-screw extruder shipments decreased 24.8 percent and 46.2 percent, respectively.
Though, compared with the first quarter of 2018, the shipments value for single-screw and twin-screw extruders increased 19.8 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively, the association reported.
"First quarter data usually comes in soft, but the declines reflect the expectation of weaker U.S. and economic growth," Perc Pineda, chief economist for the association, said in the release.
"Price effects were also at play in the first quarter," he said. "The producer price index on industrial machinery manufacturing has been on a decline from its peak in the third quarter last year."
In the committee's quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers, 70 percent of respondents said they expect conditions to either improve or hold steady in the second quarter. Sixty percent of respondents expect a steady-to-better market in 2019.
Suppliers also said growth expectations for industrial and packaging markets remained strong, but they mentioned headwinds such as weaker global economic forecast, unresolved trade issues between the United States and China, and anticipation surrounding the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
"Demand in the plastics industry is expected to remain positive against the backdrop of slower U.S. economic growth this year," Pineda said. "However, plastics machinery makers should also consider that weaker global economic conditions will have knock-on effects on the industry."