U.S. industrial production flat in February as utilities' output falls
20 March, 2017, 08:15 | Author: Leticia Walters
With a steep drop in utilities output offsetting a jump in mining output, the Federal Reserve released a report on Friday showing that US industrial production came in flat in the month of February.
Multiple manufactured product lines saw increases of one percent and higher including machinery, plastic, paper and metal products, pushing total manufacturing output up 0.5 per cent compared to January, the same increase as the prior month. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the index to climb 0.2%. Manufacturing output ex-autos rose 0.4% in February, after a 0.6% January gain, the average increase over the previous three months was 0.2%.
US factories cranked out more autos, steel and computers in February, the sixth straight monthly increase in manufacturing output.
Looking more closely at the February manufacturing data, durable and nondurable goods production was up 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Factory output was 1.2% ahead year-on-year in February.
Mining production, which includes oil drilling, increased 2.7 percent, reflecting another solid gain in oil and gas well drilling.
Factories are benefiting from greater consumer and business optimism since the elections.
The report also said capacity utilization for the industrial sector edged down to 75.4 percent in February from a revised 75.5 percent in January. Industrial output has been in an up-and-down pattern since last fall. The prior month was revised to a 0.1 percent drop from a previously reported 0.3 percent decline. Officials at the Fed tend to look at capacity use as a signal of how much "slack" remains in the economy and how much room there is for growth to accelerate before it becomes inflationary.
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