Not only did machine tool sales fail to get the traditional big year-end bump, despite 2014 being an IMTS year, but February’s data is out and it is still burrowing south. This continues to indicate that future trends in manufacturing could soften.
We used the progression of Semiconductor Equipment (Book-to-Bill is still firm there) → General Manufacturing → General Economy → Employment to prepare for the coming of an economic upturn over 2 years ago.
Today we use roughly the same progression to gauge the health of the cycle. Machine Tools are weak and the PALL-Gold ratio, as posted at Biiwii, is volatile and looking toppy. PALL-Gold was in line with the Semiconductor upturn 2+ years ago.
I’ll tell you what; it is the Semi’s that keep me from going whole hog bearish on the economy right now. If the Book-to-Bill should start to decelerate, that would be very… not good. Right now, we are on the massive back end of the economy, which is the bloated services segments (hotel and leisure, anyone?). But it is a follower.
This stuff is (pick one) confusing, complicated, geeky… but that is what I do; I look into things, even weird outlier things to make sure I am on the pulse. Somebody’s got to.
 From an NFTRH subscriber just now: “You’re right, someone’s gotta do it. Keep up the geeky style you have. It’s like water in a desert of exaggerated and conflicting information.”
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