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Industrial Production: Modest Improvement Continued in March

April 18, 2017
Bottom Line: Industrial activity increased moderately in March after slow utility usage in January and February due to unusually warm weather. Looking through the recent volatility, industrial output growth is now growing modestly on a year-over-year basis. Industrial production in Q1 increased at an annual rate of 1.4%, slightly faster than in Q4.

Industrial Production ROSE by 0.58% in March, compared with market expectations for an increase of 0.5%. Output is now 1.5% ABOVE its year ago level.

In March, Mining Output ROSE by 0.1%, and is now 0.1% BELOW its year ago level. Utility Generation ROSE by 8.7% and is now 5.2% ABOVE its year ago level.

Manufacturing Output FELL by 0.4% and is now only 0.8% ABOVE its year ago level.Output in high-tech industries rose by 0.4%. Meanwhile, output in the motor vehicle industry fell by 2.9%. Excluding both the high-tech and motor vehicles industries, industrial output decreased by 0.2%.

Capacity Utilization ROSE by 0.3 points to 76.1%, compared with market expectations for a higher increase to 76.1%. Moreover, the prior month was revised from 75.3% to 75.7%. Capacity utilization rate is now 0.7 percentage points above its year ago level and 3.9 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2015) average.