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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Strengthens
by Tom Moeller  March 16, 2018

The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production increased 1.1% (4.4% y/y) during February following a 0.3% January dip, revised from -0.1%. It was the largest increase since October 2017. A 0.3% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Factory sector production strengthened 1.2% (2.5% y/y) following three months over which production was unchanged. Utility output declined 4.7% (+10.6% y/y) after two months of strong increase. Mining production surged 4.3% (9.7% y/y), the largest increase since October 2008.

Strength in factory sector output reflected a 1.0% increase (4.6% y/y) in the production of business equipment which followed a 0.1% easing. Transit equipment production rose 1.9% (2.8% y/y) following a 0.6% increase, and information processing & related product output gained 1.3% (4.9% y/y) after a 1.7% rise.

Total consumer goods production increased 0.1% (3.7% y/y) following two months of 0.5% rise. Durable consumer goods production rose 2.8% (2.6% y/y) after a 0.8% decline. Automotive product output jumped 3.9% (3.2% y/y) following a 1.4% decline. Computer, video & related production gained 2.0% (8.8% y/y) after a 1.6% decline. Appliance, furniture & carpeting production rose 2.1% (1.0% y/y) following a 0.7% decline. These gains were offset by a 0.7% decline (+4.0% y/y) in nondurable consumer goods production which followed a 0.8% rise. Energy product output weakened 6.1% (+11.6% y/y) after a 1.9% increase. Apparel production gained 1.1% (-3.0% y/y) after a 0.6% rise. Paper product output increased 1.4% (-1.7% y/y) after a 2.0% decline. Chemical product production eased 0.2% (+3.3% y/y) after a 1.1% rise.

Construction supplies output increased 2.3% (1.2%y/y) after a 1.9% decline.

Production of materials improved 1.6% (5.5% y/y) after a 0.5% decline. Durable goods materials output jumped 1.9% (2.5% y/y) and nondurable goods materials rose 1.1% (2.2% y/y).

In the special aggregate groupings, production in selected high-technology industries rose 1.0% (8.3% y/y) following a 0.2% dip. Nonenergy production excluding high-tech rose 1.5% (2.2% y/y). Factory sector production excluding both high-tech and autos improved 1.0% (2.4% y/y) after two months of slight decline.

Capacity utilization increased to78.1%, the highest level since level since January 2015. Factory sector capacity utilization rose tot 76.9%. Electric & gas utility utilization declined to 76.9%.

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) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Output 1.1 -0.3 0.5 4.4 2.0 -1.2 -0.7
Manufacturing 1.2 -0.2 0.1 2.5 1.4 -0.0 0.1
    Consumer Goods 0.1 0.5 0.5 3.7 0.5 0.6 2.3
    Business Equipment 1.0 -0.1 -0.2 4.6 2.6 -1.8 -0.9
    Construction Supplies 2.3 -1.9 0.9 1.2 2.5 1.3 0.5
  Materials 1.6 -0.5 0.5 5.5 2.8 -2.3 -1.4
Utilities -4.7 1.3 3.6 10.6 -0.4 -0.3 -0.7
Mining 4.3 -1.5 0.3 9.7 6.9 -9.1 -4.3
Capacity Utilization (%) 78.1 77.4 77.8 75.8 76.5 75.7 76.8
 Manufacturing 76.9 76.0 76.3 75.6 75.6 75.1 75.5
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