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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Slips With Less Utility Output But Factory Output Increases
by Tom Moeller   March 17, 2011

U.S. industrial production slipped 0.1% in February after an upwardly revised 0.3% January increase, initially reported as -0.1%. The latest decline disappointed Consensus expectations for a 0.6% gain according to Action Economics. A return to more normal, winter temperatures lowered utility output by 4.5% last month and caused the decline in overall industrial production.

Factory sector output rose 0.4% after a 0.9% January jump, which was roughly double the initial estimate. Earlier strength in consumer goods reversed as indicated by the 0.6% February decline. The drop reflected a 1.3% decline in nondurable goods output (+1.5% y/y) that was led by a 5.2% decline in energy products (-2.2% y/y) production. Apparel output rose 1.3% (5.0% y/y). Output of durable consumer goods rose 2.4% (8.2% y/y). Production of business equipment rose 0.5% (14.5% y/y) with the strength in capital spending. Output of computers & electronic components increased 0.6% (16.1% y/y).

Capacity utilization overall slipped to 76.3% but remained up sharply from the recession low of 68.2%. In manufacturing alone, utilization ran at 74.3%, 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. The IP database contains figures with more decimal precision and includes extensive lists of "relative importance" numbers for several breakdowns of production by industry and market group. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Industrial Production (SA, % Change) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total Output -0.1 0.3 1.3 5.5 5.7 -9.3 -3.3
 Manufacturing 0.4 0.9 1.1 6.9 6.1 -11.1 -4.5
   Consumer Goods -0.6 0.2 1.6 2.9 4.6 -5.8 -4.2
   Business Equipment 0.5 1.8 1.4 14.5 8.1 -12.2 -1.5
   Construction Supplies 0.0 0.4 -0.1 7.9 4.0 -16.7 -9.5
 Materials 0.0 0.2 1.5 5.9 6.9 -9.7 -2.7
 Utilities -4.5 -2.1 4.8 -4.2 3.5 -2.6 -0.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 76.3 76.4 76.3 72.4 74.3 70.0 77.9
 Manufacturing 74.3 74.1 73.5 69.7 71.7 67.2 75.0
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