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U.S. Industrial Production Holds Steady in January

Modest gains in manufacturing not enough to offset declines in mining and utilities.

A newly released report from the U.S. Federal Reserve showed industrial production was unchanged in January, as a gain of 0.7 percent in manufacturing was offset by declines in mining and utilities. Industrial production had increased—albeit by a mere 0.4%—the previous month.

Following are few highlights from the January U.S. industrial production report:

Industry Groups

The production of durable goods advanced 1.8 percent in January. The output of motor vehicles and parts surged 6.8 percent following an upwardly revised increase of 3.8 percent in December. In January, gains of more than 1.0 percent were recorded for fabricated metal products; machinery; computer and electronic products; electrical equipment, appliances, and components; furniture and related products; and miscellaneous manufacturing. Meanwhile, the output of aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment edged up 0.1 percent, while production decreased for wood products, nonmetallic mineral products, and primary metals.

Nondurable manufacturing declined 0.2 percent in January after having advanced 1.5 percent in December. The decrease in production in January reflected drops in output for food, beverage, and tobacco products and for petroleum and coal products. The production indexes for apparel and leather products and for printing and support moved up more than 1 percent, while the indexes for textile and product mills, for paper, for chemicals, and for plastics and rubber products recorded smaller increases.

Market Groups

The production of consumer goods edged down 0.1 percent in January. The index for consumer durables increased 3.8 percent, but the index for consumer nondurables declined 1.2 percent. Among durables, the production of automotive products climbed 5.8 percent, and gains were also recorded for home electronics, appliances, furniture, and carpeting, as well as miscellaneous goods. Among consumer nondurables, the output of non-energy goods decreased 0.1 percent, as a decline in foods and tobacco offset gains in clothing, chemical products, and paper products. The output of consumer energy products fell 4.0 percent, with substantial decreases for both residential utilities and fuels.

The production of business equipment moved up 1.8 percent in January, with appreciable increases in all of its major component indices: Transit equipment advanced 2.5 percent, information processing equipment increased 1.8 percent, and industrial and other equipment gained 1.5 percent. The output of business equipment has risen in each of the past nine months and in January stood nearly 11 percent above its level 12 months earlier. Meanwhile. the production of defense and space equipment increased 0.8 percent in January, following a decline of 0.6 percent in December.

Among nonindustrial supplies, the output of construction supplies fell 0.4 percent in January following a gain of 3 percent in December. In January, the output of construction supplies was 5.3 percent above its level of a year earlier but remained well below its pre-recession peak. The production of business supplies increased 0.5 percent in January.

The complete January 2012 U.S. industrial report, which includes data on capacity utilization, is available online.

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