Economic news has been pretty depressing lately, but when it comes to bearings, it’s a bull market. Market gains are driven by ongoing economic growth, higher manufacturing output, greater fixed-investment activity, and rising motor vehicle production. The aftermarket will be limited to some extent by increases in average bearing life. However, growing demand for more expensive, better-performing units will provide a counterbalance, supported in part by high energy prices, which are making highly efficient bearings a more attractive investment. These and other trends are presented in World Bearings, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Product demand in developing parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa/Mideast, and Latin America will outpace sales in the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan through 2012, according to the report. Analysts further note that market advances in developing areas will be fueled by healthy economic growth, ongoing industrialization efforts, and rising personal income levels, bolstering manufacturing output and fixed investment expenditures. China, which recently surpassed the U.S. as the largest national market for bearings, will account for 48% of all additional demand through 2012. India and Russia will also record strong gains, while increases in bearing demand in Brazil will approximate the global average.

Sales growth is also expected to be healthy in a number of lower-volume markets, including Thailand and Indonesia. Bearing demand in the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan will rise as well. Although representing mature markets, these areas along with Australia and Canada will remain the most intensive users of bearing products because of the advanced industrial and technological nature of their economies. The large numbers of bearing-containing equipment in use will also help bolster aftermarket bearing demand, according to the report’s authors.

Bearings used in non-automotive, non-industrial machinery settings will post the most robust sales gains through 2012, benefiting from the favorable outlook for a number of products included here. Industrial machinery bearing demand is also expected to be healthy, stimulated by increases in global manufacturing activity, helping to spur associated fixed investment expenditures.

World Bearings is available for $5,700 from The Freedonia Group Inc.