Manufacturing output fell in December

Manufacturing output fell 1.3 percent in December and was down at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the Federal Reserve. The drop was reported after manufacturing output fell by 0.6 percent in November. 

 Indexes for durable and nondurable manufacturing fell by 1.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively in December, while the index for publishing and logging dropped by nearly 1 percent. Industrial production fell by 0.7 percent in December and 1.7 percent at annual rate in the fourth quarter. 

 Most major industries within durables had declines of at least 1 percent; machinery and food products recorded the largest declines, at 3.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. Within nondurables, the indexes for all major industries fell, with the indexes for printing and support and for petroleum and coal products contracting by more than 3 percent. 

The index for utilities jumped 3.8 percent, as cold temperatures boosted demand for heating, while the index for mining fell by nearly 1 percent. Total industrial production in December was 1.6 percent above its year-earlier level and at 103.4 percent of its 2017 average. Capacity utilization fell by 0.6 in December to 78.8 percent, 0.8 below its long-term average. Capacity utilization for manufacturing fell by 1 percentage point in December to 77.5 percent, which is 0.7 percentage point under its long-term average. 

The indexes for most major market groups fell for a second straight month in December. According to the Federal Reserve, business equipment recorded the largest drop at 2 percent, followed by construction supplies at 1.4 percent and business supplies at 1.3 percent. The index for materials fell 0.7 percent as a loss in non-energy materials offset a slight gain for energy materials.