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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Moves Lower
by Tom Moeller  May 15, 2013

Activity in the factory sector is weakening. Industrial production fell 0.6% during April following a 0.3% March increase, earlier reported as 0.4%. A 0.1% slip had been expected in the Action Economics survey. Declines in activity were broad-based amongst industries last month. Factory sector production fell 0.4% (+1.4% y/y) following its unrevised 0.2% March slip. Utility output reversed course and fell 3.7% (+3.4% y/y) following a 6.4% March owing to warmer-than-normal temperatures.

The drop in factory sector output reflected across-the-board industry weakness. Consumer goods production fell 0.6% (+2.3% y/y) as motor vehicle output dropped 1.2% (+5.2% y/y). Elsewhere, appliance, furniture & related goods production fell 0.8% and was unchanged y/y. In the nondurables area, apparel output fell 1.6% (-2.9% y/y) while paper production dropped 0.6% (-1.9% y/y). For business equipment, output fell 0.5% (+3.5% y/y). Output of information processing and related equipment fell 0.5% (+3.2% y/y) and transit equipment production fell 0.5% (+5.9% y/y). Excluding the output of high tech products & motor vehicles, production fell 0.5% (+1.8% y/y) during April.

The capacity utilization rate fell to 77.8% from a downwardly revised 78.3% in March. In the factory sector, the rate fell to 75.9%. Overall industry capacity rose 1.8% y/y while factory sector capacity increased 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) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Output -0.6 0.3 0.9 1.9 3.9 4.1 5.4
Manufacturing -0.4 -0.2 0.7 1.4 3.9 3.4 6.1
  Consumer Goods -0.6 1.0 0.8 2.3 1.6 1.5 1.1
  Business Equipment -0.5 0.1 1.8 3.5 8.3 5.6 8.3
  Construction Supplies -0.7 -1.5 2.2 1.8 5.2 3.0 3.6
Materials -0.4 0.1 0.9 1.9 4.1 4.7 8.8
Utilities -3.7 6.4 1.0 3.4 -2.1 -0.2 3.6
Capacity Utilization (%) 77.8 78.3 78.2 77.7 77.6 76.5 74.0
 Manufacturing 75.9 76.3 76.6 76.1 75.8 74.0 71.3
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