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The Manufacturing Outlook Ahead
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Industry analysts project modest manufacturing growth in 2012.

The quarterly Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI U.S. Industrial Outlook report, which analyzes 27 major industries, forecasts that manufacturing production will advance by 3 percent in 2012. That would outperform GDP growth, which MAPI estimates will be 2.1 percent.

According to the report, non-high-tech manufacturing production (which accounts for 90 percent of the total) is expected to increase 3 percent in 2012. High-tech industrial production is expected to show a robust 11 percent growth.

The auto industry, according to the most recent Autofacts report from PricewaterhouseCoopers' automotive forecasting service, will see light vehicle assembly hit 83.5 million units globally in 2012. Fast-growing markets in China and India are driving the higher global assembly estimates. Though hobbled by catastrophic interruptions, Japan's vehicle manufacturers and suppliers are recovering faster than expected, contributing to the higher estimates. For U.S. manufacturers, especially those in niche industries, engaging in foreign investment or partnerships is becoming ever more important.

Experts also indicate that many manufacturers are using their growing cash balances to add capital equipment and update factories. This is good news for the manufacturers of forklifts, automated equipment and those providing systems integration. However, the news isn't carrying over to the economy in general, since unemployed and underemployed workers restrict purchasing of consumer goods and housing-related products.


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