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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Declines for a Third Consecutive Month; Factory Output Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  December 16, 2015

Overall industrial output fell 0.6% during November (-1.2% y/y) following a 0.4% October decline, revised from -0.2%. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 0.1% fall. A 4.3% decline (-7.6% y/y) in utility output accounted for most of last month's shortfall in production. Mining output also fell 1.1% (-8.2% y/y) after a 2.4% drop.

Manufacturing sector production remained unchanged (1.0% y/y) following a 0.3% increase. Output of electrical equipment & appliances fell 1.3% (+5.3% y/y) following a 3.6% jump. Motor vehicle & parts production declined 1.0% (+5.5% y/y) and reversed the prior month's increase. Primary metals production was off 2.8% (7.0% y/y), the fourth decline in the last five months. Furniture output eased 0.1% (+2.8% y/y) following six months of increase but computer & electronic components output rose 0.7% (1.6% y/y) after a 0.3% rise. In the nondurable goods sector, production recovered 0.5% (1.6% y/y) following two months of little change. Food & beverage output led the gain with a 1.0% rise (1.6% y/y) after two months of sharp decline. Petroleum & coal product output rose 0.4% (3.5% y/y), about the same as in the prior two months. Chemical production rose 0.4% (2.1% y/y) after a 0.5% rise. To the downside, apparel output fell 1.3% (-5.6% y/y) following a 3.7% drop and textile production declined 0.6% (+0.4% y/y) after a 2.1% jump.

The special aggregate series indicated that production in high technology industries improved 0.2% (0.7% y/y) after two months of strong increase. Computers & office equipment production fell 2.9% (+3.5% y/y), down for the third month in four, but communications equipment production edged 0.1% higher (-5.7% y/y) after declining sharply in four of the prior five months. Manufacturing production, excluding both high-tech and autos, improved 0.1% (0.6% y/y) following a 0.2% rise.

The capacity utilization rate declined to 77.0% and remained below the recovery high of 79.0% reached one year ago. Mining sector utilization moved lower m/m to 79.4% and remained down from its 91.7% high reached last December. In the factory sector, the capacity utilization rate eased m/m to 76.2%. Industrial capacity increased 1.5% y/y, and by 1.2% in the factory sector.

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) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total Output -0.6 -0.4 -0.1 -1.2 3.7 1.9 2.8
Manufacturing 0.0 0.3 -0.2 1.0 2.5 0.9 2.7
    Consumer Goods -0.5 -0.5 -0.1 0.8 2.2 1.5 -1.3
    Business Equipment 0.2 -0.4 -0.5 -0.7 4.8 -0.4 9.9
    Construction Supplies -0.2 2.3 -1.3 2.1 3.9 2.8 4.3
  Materials -0.8 -0.7 0.0 -2.0 5.1 3.1 4.1
Utilities -4.3 -2.8 1.6 -7.6 1.0 2.5 -2.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 77.0 77.5 77.9 79.0 78.1 76.7 76.7
 Manufacturing 76.2 76.3 76.1 76.4 75.3 74.0 74.5
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