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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Output Dips As Strength in Factory Sector Eases
by Tom Moeller  February 15, 2013

Industrial production slipped 0.1% last month following a 0.4% December rise, initially reported as 0.3%. (Data back through 2011 were revised.) A 0.2% gain had been expected in the Action Economics survey. Colder than normal temperatures caused utility output to jump 3.5% (6.0% y/y) last month. The sizable decline in factory sector production of 0.4% (+1.7% y/y) followed two months of sharp increase after Hurricane Sandy.

The decline in factory sector output reflected broad-based industry weakness. A 0.2% decline (+1.4% y/y) in consumer goods output was led by a 3.2% drop (+7.5% y/y) in motor vehicles & parts production. That was accompanied by a 0.9% decline (+4.3% y/y) in electrical equipment, appliances & components production and a 1.0% drop (+0.2% y/y) in chemical output. Computers & electronics production also fell 0.5% (+1.7% y/y). These declines were offset by a 1.5% rise (2.3% y/y) in machinery output and a 1.0% increase (-3.5% y/y) in apparel production. Manufacturing output excluding high tech and motor vehicles slipped 0.1% (+1.4% y/y) during January.

The capacity utilization rate fell to 79.1% in January versus 78.8% during all of last year. In the factory sector, the rate fell to 77.6% versus 77.3% during all of 2012. Manufacturing sector capacity rose 1.6% y/y.

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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Output -0.1 0.4 1.3 2.1 3.8 4.1 5.4
Manufacturing -0.4 1.1 1.3 1.7 4.2 4.3 5.7
  Consumer Goods -0.2 0.4 1.5 1.4 0.8 3.2 1.1
  Business Equipment 0.0 0.3 3.1 6.8 8.2 10.5 8.3
  Construction Supplies 0.0 0.9 2.5 2.1 5.2 5.3 3.8
Materials -0.2 0.5 1.0 1.7 5.1 3.5 8.4
Utilities 3.5 -4.4 0.6 6.0 -1.3 -0.5 3.6
Capacity Utilization (%) 79.1 79.3 79.1 78.7 78.8 76.8 73.7
 Manufacturing 77.6 78.0 77.3 77.5 77.3 75.0 71.3
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