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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Output Declines Broadly
by Tom Moeller  June 15, 2012

Overall industrial output fell across most categories last month. Total production slipped 0.1% after an unrevised 1.0% April increase. The decline compared to Consensus expectations for 0.1% uptick according to Action Economics. A 0.8% (1.1% y/y) rise in utility output, again due to the warm spring, contrasted to a 0.4% decline (+5.1% y/y) in factory sector output.

Production of construction supplies led last month's overall weakness with a 1.1% decline (+5.2% y/y). In manufacturing, consumer goods output slipped 0.2% (+2.3% y/y) during May led by a 1.8% decline (+19.0% y/y) in auto production. Computers, video and audio production was unchanged (3.2% y/y) while appliances, furniture & carpeting output fell 0.4% (+1.5% y/y). In the nondurables area, clothing output jumped 1.5% (-1.5% y/y), chemical production inched up 0.1% (-2.1% y/y) but paper products output fell 1.6% (-2.6% y/y). Business equipment production inched up 0.3% (11.2% y/y) following a firm 1.5% jump in April.

Capacity utilization fell back from its four year high to 79.0%. In manufacturing alone, utilization fell to 77.6% and remained up from the recession low of 64.4%. Overall capacity is estimated to have risen 1.1% y/y following a 0.2% dip last year and a 2.0% decline during 2010. In the factory sector, capacity rose 0.8% y/y and excluding the high-tech industries it increased 0.3%.

Industrial production and capacity data are included in Haver's USECON database, with additional detail in the IP database. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Industrial Production (SA, % Change) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Output -0.1 1.0 -0.6 4.7 4.1 5.4 -11.4
Manufacturing -0.4 0.7 -0.6 5.1 4.3 5.7 -13.8
  Consumer Goods -0.2 1.4 -1.0 2.3 2.3 1.1 -6.9
  Business Equipment 0.3 1.5 0.3 11.2 8.2 8.3 -18.2
  Construction Supplies -1.1 0.6 -1.0 5.2 5.6 3.8 -22.9
Materials 0.1 0.6 -0.4 5.1 4.6 8.4 -11.5
Utilities 0.8 5.4 -0.6 1.1 -0.3 3.6 -2.5
Capacity Utilization (%) 79.0 79.2 78.5 76.3 76.8 73.7 68.5
 Manufacturing 77.6 78.0 77.5 74.4 75.0 71.3 65.5
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