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Economy in Brief

Industrial Output Firms
by Tom Moeller February 17, 2010

With a 0.9% January increase, U.S. industrial output posted its strongest monthly gain since August. Moreover, the run-up since the June bottom has totaled 5.3%. That compares with a 13.2% decline during the prior year which exceeded the declines during most other postwar recessions.

A 1.1% increase in the output of consumer goods paced the January production increase. The y/y gain of 3.2% has been driven by a nearly one-half increase in auto products output during the last year. Output of computers, video & audio output also rose 1.0% (-5.3% y/y) for the fifth consecutive strong monthly gain. Output of appliances, furniture & carpeting was unchanged last month (-7.5% y/y) after a sharp December fall which was part of an 18.1% 2009 drop. Business equipment output was strong for the second consecutive month but still was off 3.7% y/y after the 12.5% decline during all of last year. Finally, apparel output jumped 3.4% last month (0.7% y/y) and since its bottom has risen 5.9%.

 Capacity utilization rose further to 72.67%, its highest level since December 2008. In the factory sector alone utilization rose to 69.4% from the 2009 low of 65.2%. Utilization in the primary metals area has risen sharply to 61.9% from a 2009 average of 51.2% with the rebound in output. There's also been rise in utilization in the motor vehicle sector to 55.0% from a low of 36.8% in June. Utilization was 77.0% in 2005. The rise in utilization was accompanied by another 0.1% m/m decline in capacity which was off a record 1.1%y/y. 

The industrial production data are available in Haver's USECON database.

Using FOMC Forecasts to Forecast the Economy from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Industrial Production (SA,%) January December November Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Output 0.9 0.7 0.6 1.0 -9.7 -2.2 1.5
  Manufacturing 0.9 0.0 0.9 1.6 -11.3 -3.2 1.4
    Consumer Goods 1.1 0.7 -0.3 3.2 -5.2 -2.6 0.9
    Business Equipment 1.0 1.3 -0.3 -3.7 -12.5 -1.1 2.7
    Construction Supplies 0.9 -1.7 1.6 -5.4 -17.6 -6.3 -2.0
    Materials 0.8 0.5 1.3 2.0 -10.9 -1.9 2.0
  Utilities 0.7 6.3 -3.0 -0.5 -2.6 0.3 3.4
Capacity Utilization (%) 72.6 71.9 71.3 71.1 (Jan. '09) 70.1 77.5 80.6
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