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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Falls With Less Utility Output While Factories Produce More
by Tom Moeller   February 16, 2011

U.S. industrial production slipped 0.1% in January after an upwardly revised 1.2% December increase, initially reported as 0.8%. The latest decline disappointed Consensus expectations for a 0.5% gain. The January figure followed an outsized December increase that was boosted by a 4.1% surge utility output. The return to more normal temperatures lowered output by 1.5% last month and caused the decline in overall industrial production.

Factory sector output rose 0.3% after a 0.8% December surge, which was double the initial estimate. Strength in consumer goods evaporated as indicated by the 0.1% January uptick following a 1.1% December surge. The diminution largely reflected a 0.1% downtick in nondurable goods output (+3.5% y/y) that was led by a 1.0% decline in petroleum (+10.8% y/y) production. Output of durable goods rose a steady 0.7% (8.3% y/y) as machinery production jumped 1.3% (16.5% y/y) with the strength in capital spending. Output of computers & electronic component also rose a firm 0.9% (13.1% y/y) though output of electrical equipment fell 1.1% (+4.5% y/y). Furniture output rose 0.4% (6.8% y/y) but textile production fell 0.4% (+2.6% y/y).

Capacity utilization overall held roughly steady at 76.1%, up sharply from the recession low of 68.2%. In manufacturing alone, utilization ran at 73.7%, up from 73.5% in December and up from the recession low of 65.4%.

Industrial production and capacity data are included in Haver's USECON database, with additional detail in the IP database; that database contains index data at more decimal precision and also includes extensive lists of relative importance figures for several breakdowns of production by industry and market group.

Industrial Production (SA, % Change) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total Output -0.1 1.2 0.3 5.1 5.7 -9.3 -3.3
 Manufacturing 0.3 0.8 0.3 5.5 6.1 -11.1 -4.5
   Consumer Goods 0.1 1.1 -0.2 2.2 4.6 -5.8 -4.2
   Business Equipment 0.9 1.0 0.4 11.4 7.8 -12.2 -1.5
   Construction Supplies -0.1 -0.1 1.3 7.2 4.0 -16.7 -9.5
 Materials -0.3 1.5 0.4 6.3 7.0 -9.7 -2.7
 Utilities -1.5 4.1 2.0 0.1 3.4 -2.6 -0.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 76.1 76.2 75.4 72.3 74.3 70.0 77.9
 Manufacturing 73.7 73.5 72.9 69.8 71.7 67.2 75.0
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