Industrial production unchanged in February

Industrial production was unchanged last month, according to February’s Federal Reserve Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization report. 

At 102.6 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production was 0.2 percent below its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization was unchanged last month at 78 percent, 1.6 percentage points below its 50-year average.  

Manufacturing output increased by 0.1 percent in February but remains 1 percent under its year-ago level. The indexes for durable and nondurable manufacturing increased by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, according to the report, while the index for publishing and logging manufacturing fell 1.5 percent. Capacity utilization for manufacturing fell 0.1 percentage point in February to 77.6 percent, 0.6 percent below its long-term average. 

The index for utilities increased by a half-percent. Production gains were recorded by consumer goods, defense and space equipment and materials, while losses were borne by business equipment, construction supplies and business supplies. Defense and space equipment increased by 1.2 percent, while construction supplies sustained the largest drop at 0.5 percent.

Within materials, the indexes for both durable and nondurable materials increased moderately, while the index for energy materials fell for the fifth straight month. Computers and electronic products registered the largest production gain within durables at 1.2 percent, while nonmetallic mineral products recorded the largest loss at 0.5 percent. Within nondurables, drops of at least 1 percent were registered by textile and product mills and by plastics and rubber products; only production of chemicals increased more than 1 percent. 

“Within consumer goods, the index for consumer durables fell primarily as a result of a drop for automotive products, the index for non-energy nondurables was unchanged and the index for consumer energy products moved up,” the Fed stated. 

Mining input fell 0.6 percent last month; indexes for oil and gas extraction and mining except oil and gas all fell. The operating rate for mining fell 0.6 percentage point to 87.3 percent, while the operating rate for utilities increased 0.2 percentage points to 68.9 percent, 1 percentage point above its long-term average.