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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Jumped
by Tom Moeller February 17, 2004

Industrial production jumped 0.8% in January and about matched Consensus expectations for a 0.7% rise. December's slight gain in output was revised to no change.

Cold winter weather boosted the production gain by raising utility output 5.2% (4.3% y/y).

Production in the factory sector increased a moderate 0.4% and the December output gain was revised to 0.1% from 0.3% (2.3% y/y).

Output in selected high-technology industries continued to pace the figures in January and jumped 2.6% (24.6% y/y). Prior months' gains were revised lower. Output of computers and peripheral equipment rose 1.9% (14.2% y/y). Output of semiconductors & related equipment surged 3.2% (42.7% y/y) and output of communications equipment rose for the first month in three, up 2.0% (+4.2% y/y).

Excluding high-tech, factory output rose by 0.1% for the second month (0.8% y/y). Electrical equipment & appliance outputrose 0.4% for the second month (3.1% y/y). Furniture output also rose 0.4% for the third consecutive monthly gain (-2.4% y/y). Machinery output rose 0.7% but metals production fell. Output of nondurables was unchanged (-0.2% y/y).

Total capacity utilization moved up to 76.2%, the highest level since June '02. Y/Y growth in capacity was a low 1.1%, the slowest since early 1989.

Production & Capacity Jan Dec Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Industrial Production 0.8% 0.0% 2.3% 0.3% -0.6% -3.4%
Capacity Utilization 76.2% 75.6% 75.2%(1/03) 74.9% 75.6% 77.4%
Empire State Index Rose Unexpectedly
by Tom Moeller February 17, 2004

The Empire State Index of General Business Conditions for February rose three points to 42.05, another record high. A decline in the index to 37.5 had been the Consensus expectation. January's level was revised slightly lower.

The new orders index improved to 34.93 following a slight January decline (revised down). The shipments index slumped 15 points to 26.61 from the January record. The employment index also slid to 16.54, a five month low.

The index of prices strengthened further to 33.62, a series' record.

The February index of expectations for business conditions six months ahead fell for the second month to 53.93, the lowest level since July. Expectations for capital expenditures improved moderately following a sharp drop in January.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey is a monthly survey of manufacturers in New York State conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Participants from across the state in a variety of industries respond to a questionnaire and report the change in a variety of indicators from the previous month. Respondents also state the likely direction of these same indicators six months ahead. April 2002 is the first report, although survey data date back to July 2001.

Like the Philadelphia Fed Index of General Business Conditions, the Empire State Business Conditions Index reflects answers to an independent survey question, not the components.

For more on the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, including methodologies and the latest report, click here.

Empire State Manufacturing Survey Feb Jan Y/Y (2/03) 2003 2002 2001
General Business Conditions (diffusion index) 42.05 38.85 1.71 16.30 7.02 -13.57
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