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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Declines While Factory Output Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  May 15, 2015

Overall industrial output fell 0.3% during April (+1.9% y/y) following a revised 0.3% March shortfall, initially reported as -0.6%. A 0.1% slip in production had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Manufacturing sector production remained unchanged (2.4% y/y) after a 0.3% gain. Mining output declined 0.8% (+1.3% y/y), the sixth decline in the last seven months. Oil & gas well drilling was off 14.5% (-46.5% y/y). Utility output fell 1.3% (+0.1% y/y) after a 5.4% drop.

Within the factory sector, automotive product production rose 1.5% (9.0% y/y) and added to a 4.1% jump. Appliance, furniture & carpeting output recovered 1.3% (3.6% y/y) following three months of sharp decline. Business equipment production fell, however, by 0.4% (+2.3% y/y), reversing the prior month's rise. Transit equipment manufacturing fell 0.4% (+3.4% y/y) after a 2.0% jump. In the nondurables sector, clothing output was off 0.2% (+1.0% y/y), down for the second month in three. Chemical product manufacturing was unchanged (4.1% y/y) after a 0.1% dip.

The special aggregate series indicated that production in high technology industries improved 0.2% (0.7% y/y) following four straight monthly declines. Computers & office equipment output increased 1.4% (6.8% y/y) and communications equipment production gained 0.7% (1.7% y/y). Factory sector production excluding the high-tech sector was unchanged (2.4% y/y) after a 0.4% rise. Manufacturing production excluding both high-tech and autos slipped 0.1% (+2.1% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick.

The capacity utilization rate fell to 78.2% and remained below the recovery high of 79.8% reached in November. Mining sector utilization plunged to 84.0%, the lowest level since early 2011. In the factory sector, the capacity utilization rate slipped to 77.2%, down from 78.1% in November. Total industry capacity rose 2.9% y/y while factory sector capacity increased 2.0% 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 2014 2013 2012
Total Output -0.3 -0.3 -0.1 1.9 4.2 2.9 3.8
Manufacturing 0.0 0.3 -0.2 2.4 3.5 2.7 4.1
  Consumer Goods -0.3 -0.1 0.5 1.6 2.8 2.4 1.7
  Business Equipment -0.4 0.4 0.7 2.3 5.2 3.6 7.5
  Construction Supplies 0.1 -1.3 -0.6 3.5 4.2 4.2 4.6
Materials -0.2 -0.2 -0.3 2.6 5.1 3.2 4.5
Utilities -1.3 -5.4 4.9 0.1 1.3 2.1 -2.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 78.2 78.6 78.9 79.0 79.1 78.0 77.3
 Manufacturing 77.2 77.3 77.2 77.0 77.2 76.1 75.5
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