April Industrial Production Up

Although below-normal temps kept the output of most utilities up, petroleum and coal production was down to an unusually high number of maintenance-related refinery shutdowns.

WASHINGTON - For April, industrial production did better than expected, rising 0.7 percent after a 0.3 percent decrease in March, according to a report by the Federal Reserve.

Overall industrial production for the month was 1.9 percent higher than its year-earlier level.

Output in manufacturing rose 0.5 percent, due to advances in motor vehicles and parts and in high-technology goods.

Output of utilities was up 3.5 percent as temperatures were below seasonal norms in April. Mining output was down 0.3 percent. The output of natural gas utilities rose 11.8 percent and electric utilities were up 2 percent.

Petroleum and coal product production saw a 2.8 percent decrease due to unusually high refinery shutdowns for maintenance.

Durable goods production was up 1.1 percent. The following saw increases in production greater than 1 percent: computer and electronic products; electrical equipment, appliances and components; motor vehicles and parts; and miscellaneous manufacturing.

The above increases offset slight decreases in nonmetallic mineral products, machinery, and furniture and related products.

Nondurable manufacturing was down 0.2 percent, due to declines in textile and product mills; food, beverage and tobacco products; and petroleum and coal products.

The factory operating rate was up 0.2 to 80.2 percent.

The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was up 0.4 to 81.6 percent.

Capacity utilization for industries in the crude stage of processing was down 0.5 to 88.8 percent for April, while capacity utilization for industries in the primary and semi-finished stages was up 0.6 to 82.1 percent. For industries at the finished stage, capacity utilization rose 0.5 to 78.8 percent.

"April's 0.7 percent increase in total industrial production and 0.5 percent gain in manufacturing production indicates that the industrial economy is solidly growing again," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "The increase in April manufacturing production comes on top of a 0.6 percent improvement in March and puts the level of manufacturing production appreciably above the August 2006 start of this mid-cycle correction. Sentiment indicators in manufacturing indicate that firms are positive about the outlook this year and we believe that manufacturing activity will continue to post growth in the remaining three quarters of this year."

To view the report, click here.