Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Industrial Production unchanged in March, Capacity Utilization declines

by Bill McBride on 4/17/2012 09:30:00 AM

From the Fed: Industrial production and Capacity Utilization

Industrial production was unchanged in March for a second month but rose at an annual rate of 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Manufacturing output declined 0.2 percent in March but jumped 10.4 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter. The gain in manufacturing output in the first quarter was broadly based: Even excluding motor vehicles and parts, which jumped at an annual rate of nearly 40 percent, manufacturing output moved up at an annual rate of 8.3 percent and output for all but a few major industries increased 5 percent or more. In March, production at mines rose 0.2 percent and the output of utilities gained 1.5 percent. For the quarter, however, the output of utilities dropped at an annual rate of 13.8 percent, largely as a result of unseasonably warm temperatures over the past several months, while the output of mining fell 5.4 percent. At 96.6 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production for March was 3.8 percent above its year-earlier level. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry edged down to 78.6 percent, a rate 2.1 percentage points above its level from a year earlier but 1.7 percentage points below its long-run (1972--2011) average.
Capacity Utilization Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows Capacity Utilization. This series is up 11.8 percentage points from the record low set in June 2009 (the series starts in 1967).

Capacity utilization at 78.6% is still 1.7 percentage points below its average from 1972 to 2010 and below the pre-recession levels of 81.3% in December 2007.

Note: y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

Industrial ProductionThe second graph shows industrial production since 1967.

Industrial production was unchanged in March at 96.6; however February was revised up from 96.2.

The consensus was for a 0.3% increase in Industrial Production in March, and for a decrease to 78.6% (from 78.7%) for Capacity Utilization. Although below consensus, with the February revisions, this was close to expectations.

All current manufacturing graphs

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