US Industrial Output Falls the Most in 11 Months

US industrial output dropped 0.5 percent from a month earlier in April 2019, defying market expectations of a flat reading and reversing a 0.2 percent advance in March. That was the biggest decline in industrial production since May last year.

Manufacturing output declined 0.5 percent in April after having decreased about 0.4 percent per month, on average, during the previous three months. In April, the production of durable goods fell almost 1 percent, but the index for nondurable goods only edged down. Among durables, losses of 2 percent or more were posted by machinery; electrical equipment, appliances, and components; and motor vehicles and parts. Among nondurables, the results were mixed—the largest gains were recorded by apparel and by paper and products, and the largest declines were recorded by textile and product mills and by plastics and rubber products. The index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) declined 0.3 percent and was well below its year-earlier level.

The output of utilities fell 3.5 percent in April, with declines in the indexes for both natural gas and electric utilities; demand for heating decreased last month because of temperatures that were warmer than normal. After having fallen for three consecutive months, mining output stepped up 1.6 percent in April and was 10.4 percent above its level of a year earlier. The increase in the mining index for April reflected gains in the oil and gas sector as well as a jump in coal mining that followed a few months of declines.

Capacity utilization for manufacturing dropped 0.5 percentage point in April to 75.7 percent, a rate that is 2.6 percentage points below its long-run average. The utilization rate for durable manufacturing declined, while the rates for nondurable manufacturing and for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) were little changed. Capacity utilization for mining increased to 91.4 percent and remained well above its long-run average of 87.1 percent. The utilization rate for utilities dropped to 76.2 percent and was more than 9 percentage points below its long-run average.

US Industrial Output Falls the Most in 11 Months

Federal Reserve | Joana Ferreira |
5/15/2019 1:20:28 PM