Industrial Output Moderates After Storm-Related Rebound

A welder works on sides for refrigerated rail cars at the Gunderson Rail Car Plant in Portland, Ore. Natalie Behring/Bloomberg News

U.S. industrial production rose at a slower pace in November as factory output moderated following the biggest advance in more than seven years that reflected a hurricane-related surge, Federal Reserve data showed Dec. 12.

Highlights of Industrial Production for November

• Total industrial production, which also includes mines and utilities, increased 0.2% (estimated 0.3% rise) after an upwardly revised 1.2% jump that was the largest since May 2010.

• Factory output also increased 0.2% (estimated 0.3% gain) after climbing an upwardly revised 1.4% advance (biggest since May 2010).

• Capacity utilization, measuring the amount of a plant that is in use, edged up to 77.1% (estimated 77.2%) from 77%.

Key Takeaways

Three straight months of increased factory output show that manufacturing remains on solid ground amid steady consumer spending and strong gains in business investment. An improvement in overseas markets may also boost export demand in coming months.

The latest advance in manufacturing production reflected a widespread increase in the output of durable goods, driven by primary metals. In a sign factories are putting more resources to use, capacity utilization at manufacturers climbed to 76.4%, the highest since May 2008.

Total industrial production was driven by a 3% increase in oil and gas extraction as activity returned to normal levels following Hurricane Nate, the Fed said. Excluding the rebound in energy extraction, total industrial output would have been unchanged.

Other Details

• Utility output fell 1.9% after rising 2% the prior month.

• Mining production increased 2% after a 0.6% decrease.

• Production of motor vehicles cooled to a 0.1% increase after three months of solid gains.

• Production of business equipment rose 0.5% in November, while output of construction supplies climbed 0.6%.

• Consumer goods output dropped 0.4% after a 1.2% surge.

• Production of primary metals increased 1.7%, the third gain in the last four months.

With assistance by Jordan Yadoo