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North American shipments of primary plastics machinery posted a strong year-over-year increase in Q3 of 2017 according to statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES). This marked the second consecutive quarterly Y/Y increase in this data.

The preliminary estimate for shipments of primary plastics equipment (injection moulding, extrusion, and blow moulding equipment) for reporting companies totaled $350.8 million in the third quarter. This was 20.4% higher than the total of $291.3 million in Q3 of 2016, and it was 4.0% stronger than the revised $337.2 million from Q2 of 2017. This Y/Y gain in Q2 followed a revised 6.5% Y/Y increase in the quarterly total from Q2.

“After hitting a plateau in the second half of 2016, the upward trend in the shipments data for plastics equipment re-emerged in the third quarter of 2017. Quarterly gains of 20% will not be sustained going forward, but the plastics industry is entering the New Year with more momentum than it did a year ago. I still expect the underlying economic fundamentals in the U.S. to push higher, and global demand will also improve in 2018,” according to Bill Wood, of Mountaintop Economics & Research, Inc.

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about their future expectations. According to the Q3 survey, 87% of respondents expect market conditions to either hold steady or get better during the next year. This is up slightly from 86% in Q2.

Global market conditions in the coming year are expected to come in steady-to-better. This is a bit more optimistic than the outlook in Q2. Expectations for North America improved slightly. Expectations for Latin America and Europe were little changed. Expectations for Mexico declined, but there was a big increase in positive sentiment for Asia in the coming year.

The respondents to the Q3 survey currently expect that packaging will be the strongest end-market in the coming year. The outlook for demand from the electronics sector also improved. The outlook for all other major end-markets called for steady-to-better conditions.

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