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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Recovers Modestly
by Tom Moeller  February 18, 2015

Industrial production increased 0.2% during January (4.8% y/y) following a 0.3% December decline, earlier reported as -0.1%. The latest gain was helped by a 2.2% rise (-6.6%) in utility output. Manufacturing sector production improved 0.1% (5.5% y/y) following no change in December, revised from 0.3%. A 0.3% rise in total output was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Consumer goods production improved 0.2% last month (2.9% y/y) as nondurable goods output was unchanged (4.6% y/y) and durable goods production gained 0.4% (7.3% y/y). Business equipment production improved 0.8% (7.3% y/y). A 1.0% rise (4.2% y/y) in information processing equipment accompanied a 0.1% uptick (9.1% y/y) in transit equipment. Motor vehicle & parts production fell 0.5% (+13.3% y/y) and appliance & furniture output declined 1.9% (+7.9% y/y). Apparel production jumped 1.0% (5.7% y/y) following a 3.1% surge. Chemical output repeated a 0.2% rise (5.5% y/y). Production of construction supplies declined 0.3% (+6.1 y/y) following a 1.0% jump.

Within the special aggregate series, high technology industries production jumped 1.2% (7.0% y/y). It was fueled by a 1.6% recovery (-5.9% y/y) in computers & office equipment output after a 3.5% decline. Factory sector production excluding the high-tech sector improved 0.1% (5.6% y/y) following a 0.1% gain. Manufacturing production excluding both high-tech and autos ticked 0.1% higher (5.0% y/y) after a 0.2% rise.

The capacity utilization rate held steady at 79.4% and remained below the recovery high of 79.8% reached in November. In the factory sector, the capacity utilization rate was fairly stable near the expansion high at 78.1%. Total industry capacity rose an improved 3.1% y/y in January while factory sector capacity increased 2.2% 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 2014 2013 2012
Total Output 0.2 -0.3 1.1 4.8 4.2 2.9 3.8
Manufacturing 0.1 0.0 1.2 5.5 3.6 2.7 4.1
  Consumer Goods 0.2 -0.8 2.2 2.9 2.8 2.4 1.7
  Business Equipment 0.8 -1.1 1.4 7.3 5.1 3.6 7.5
  Construction Supplies -0.3 1.0 0.0 6.1 4.2 4.2 4.6
Materials 0.3 0.2 0.8 6.0 5.1 3.2 4.5
Utilities 2.2 -6.9 3.6 -6.6 1.2 2.1 -2.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 79.4 79.4 79.8 78.1 79.2 78.0 77.3
 Manufacturing 78.1 78.0 78.2 75.5 77.2 76.1 75.5
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