Although global economic growth and electronics industry growth slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011, signs that the recovery is resuming in the USA is apparent, according to IPC's quarterly report, Market Data Update, published last week. This winter 2012 edition reports the latest global and regional developments in the economy and the electronics industry, including selected findings from IPC's industry statistical programs and leading indicators.
The sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone is acting as a strong headwind, holding back economic growth worldwide. China’s economic growth is decelerating, in part because of the bleak outlook for exports.
U.S. economic indicators continued a slow and steady improvement that began in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index® (LEI) has remained flat for a year, but has been inching up since last October, pointing to improved economic conditions in the next quarter. The U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is also in positive territory and trending upward.
EMS and assembly equipment sales growth in North American, although slower, remained positive, while most supply chain segments in the region, including the PCB and semiconductor industries, continued a downward trend. Similarly, at the global level, sales growth in the electronics supply chain continued its downward trend in the fourth quarter.
However, leading indicators in North America are trending gradually upward and point to a resumption of modest growth in 2012. IPC’s PCB book-to-bill ratio edged up to 1.01, just above parity, in January. Monthly growth rates for North American EMS and semiconductor sales, and U.S. new orders for electronic end-products, improved in the last two months of 2011, returning to positive growth in December.
Manufacturing continues to lead U.S. economic growth. Factory production grew a surprising 1.5 percent in December, the biggest one-month gain since December 2006, according to the Federal Reserve, and it continued to grow in January. Electronic products figured prominently in these increases, especially in the automotive market.
IPC’s Market Data Update is free to IPC member companies, who can access the latest edition via a log-in page at www.ipc.org/Update. It is also available by subscription at www.ipc.org/MDU-subscription. For more information on IPC’s Market Data Update and other IPC statistical programs, contact Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research, at SharonStarr@ipc.org or +1 847-597-2817.
IPC (www.IPC.org) is a global trade association based in Bannockburn, Ill., dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of its 3,100 member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. As a member-driven organization and leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy, IPC supports programs to meet the needs of an estimated $2.02 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Arlington, Va.; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing, China.