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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Eases; Factory Output Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  February 15, 2018

The Federal Reserve indicated that industrial production slipped 0.1% (+3.7 y/y) during January, following a 0.4% December gain, revised from 0.9%. A 0.2% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Factory sector production held steady (1.8% y/y) for a second straight month. A 0.6% increase (10.8% y/y) in utility output was offset by a 1.0% decline (+8.8% y/y) in mining production which followed a 0.4% fall.

Stability in factory sector output reflected a 0.3% increase (2.9% y/y) in consumer goods production. Motor vehicle & parts output increased 0.6% (1.4% y/y) after a 1.1% rise. Apparel production gained 0.2% (-8.3% y/y) but paper output fell 0.4% (+0.5% y/y). Appliance & furniture production fell 0.6% (+3.1% y/y), down for the fourth straight month. Chemical product production strengthened 1.1% (3.2% y/y) after a 0.3% rise. Business equipment production improved 0.9% (4.8% y/y) following a 1.0% gain. Machinery production increased 0.5% (7.9% y/y) and computer & electronic component production gained 1.3% (+2.4% y/y) after a 0.7% rise. Chemical production rose 1.1% (3.2% y/y) after a 0.3% rise and petroleum & related product output rose 0.9% (1.9% y/y). Construction supplies output declined 1.4% (+0.9 y/y.

Production of materials eased 0.3% (+4.7% y/y) as durable goods materials slipped 0.2% (+1.8% y/y) and nondurable goods materials eased 0.3% (+1.2% y/y)

In the special aggregate groupings, production in selected high-technology industries rose 0.9% (7.9% y/y), the fifth straight strong increase. Nonenergy production excluding high-tech slipped 0.1% (+1.4% y/y). Factory sector production excluding both high-tech and autos held steady (1.6% y/y) after a 0.2% dip.

Capacity utilization eased to 77.5%, but remained near the highest level since February 2015. Factory sector capacity utilization held steady m/m at 76.2%. Electric & gas utility utilization strengthened to 81.1%.

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 2017 2016 2015
Total Output -0.1 0.4 0.3 3.7 2.0 -1.2 -0.7
Manufacturing 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.8 1.4 -0.0 0.1
    Consumer Goods 0.3 1.0 -0.7 2.9 0.5 0.6 2.3
    Business Equipment 0.9 -0.3 0.0 4.8 2.6 -1.8 -0.9
    Construction Supplies -1.4 0.5 0.8 0.9 2.5 1.3 0.5
  Materials -0.3 0.4 0.9 4.7 2.7 -2.3 -1.4
Utilities 0.6 4.6 -1.8 10.8 -0.3 -0.3 -0.7
Mining -1.0 -0.4 2.1 8.8 6.8 -9.1 -4.3
Capacity Utilization (%) 77.5 77.7 77.5 75.7 76.5 75.7 76.8
 Manufacturing 76.2 76.2 76.3 75.4 75.6x 75.1 75.5
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