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Economy in Brief

Industrial Production Increase Due To Autos & High Tech
by Tom Moeller March 16, 2005

Industrial production rose 0.3% in February following an upwardly revised 0.1% up tick in January. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% increase. For the second month utility output fell, by 1.0% after the 2.8% decline in January.

Factory sector output rose 0.5% (4.7% y/y) for the third straight month. High tech sector output rose 1.5% (20.6% y/y) after a 3.2% January increase which was double the initial estimate. Output of communications equipment rose 2.4% (18.6% y/y). Factory output excluding high tech rose 0.5% (3.7% y/y), the strongest monthly gain since October.

Motor vehicle & parts output led the strength last month outside of tech and rose 5.2% (4.5% y/y). Excluding motor vehicles factory output rose just 0.1% (4.7% y/y).

Excluding both high tech and motor vehicles factory output was unchanged last month (3.7% y/y). Output in most industry groups declined. Clothing output fell 1.5% (-7.5% y/y) and paper output slipped 0.2% (+3.5% y/y). Machinery output fell 0.6% (+6.2% y/y) after a strong gain in January but production of appliances, furniture & carpeting rose 0.4% (0.1% y/y).

Total capacity utilization fell slightly to 79.0%. Capacity grew 1.2% y/y.

Production & Capacity Feb Jan Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Industrial Production 0.3% 0.1% 3.5% 4.1% -0.0% -0.3%
Capacity Utilization 79.4% 79.2% 77.7% (02/04) 78.1% 75.5% 75.3%
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