Industrial Production Stops Slide with 0.4% Increase in March

Industrial production figures broke a five month slide, registering an increase of  in March. The Federal Reserve reports that overall industrial production rose 0.4 percent in March, higher than the consensus expected decrease of 0.2%. Capacity utilization moved up 0.1% to 79.4% in March but remains at a lev

Industrial production figures broke a five month slide, registering an increase of  in March.

The Federal Reserve reports that overall industrial production rose 0.4 percent in March, higher than the consensus expected decrease of 0.2%. Capacity utilization moved up 0.1% to 79.4% in March but remains at a level more than 2½ percentage points below its 1967-2000 average. While economists expect further rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, it appears the economy may be starting to rebound.

All subgroups rose in March with the exception of construction supplies. Manufacturing's increase of 0.3% reversed the 0.3% decline in February. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output fell 0.1% in March.

Industry Groups
Manufacturing output rose 0.3 percent in March, with a 1.7 percent increase in the production of durable goods and a 0.4 percent decrease in nondurable goods. The output of consumer goods rose 0.3% in March. An increase of 2.4% in the production of consumer durables more than offset the decline in production of nondurables.
The output of automotive products rose 5.7 percent; nonetheless, because of the sharp cutbacks in the fourth quarter of 2000 and earlier this year, output in March remained 6.7 percent below its year-ago level. The production of business equipment increased 0.9 percent in March after three months of decline. The output of transit equipment rose 4.5 percent due to gains in autos, trucks and commercial aircraft. Information processing and related equipment rose a modest 0.7 percent. The production of industrial and other equipment fell 0.3 percent in March.

The factory operating rate declined to 78.1 percent in March, more than 2½ percentage points below its 1967-2000 average. The utilization rate for primary processing industries decreased slightly to 78.6 percent, while the rate for advanced processing industries edged up to 78.5 percent. Capacity utilization in the high tech sector dropped for the eighth consecutive month to 77.3 percent, 12.7 percent below its July 2000 peak. The operating rate at utilities rose to 90.5 percent. The operating rate for mining registered its third consecutive increase to 88.4 percent.

Monthly Reports

Industrial Production Index             1992=100
*revisions possible for previous months
  Dec. Jan. Feb. March
Total Index 147.3 146.4 145.9 146.5
Manufacturing 152.6 151.8 151.3 151.8
     Durable 195.1 192.7 191.9 193.6
     Nondurable 114.1 114.6 114.4 114.0
Utilities 129.1 124.4 121.8 123.1

Market Groups, Losers and Gainers

Industrial Production
*revisions possible for previous months
  Dec. Jan. Feb. March
Automotive
Products
140.7 133.8 137.0 144.8
Chemical
Products
139.0 140.1 140.4 141.0
Industrial
Equipment
262.3 260.1 258.4 257.7
Basic Metals 126.3 123.5 122.7 122.6
Semiconductors 2353.7 2308.6 2307.2 2326.9


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