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HomeMarketU.S. industrial output flat in January, continuing a weak trend

U.S. industrial output flat in January, continuing a weak trend

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The numbers: Industrial production was unchanged in January, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. Production has not increased since September.

The flat reading was below Wall Street expectations of a 0.4% gain, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.

Output in December was revised down to a 1% decline from the initial estimate of a 0.7% fall.

Capacity utilization slipped to to 78.3% in January from 78.4% in the prior month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits to operating the nation’s factories, mines and utilities.  This is the lowest capacity level since September 2021.

Economists had forecast a 79% rate.

Key details: Manufacturing and mining recovered in January after two months of sharp declines.

Manufacturing rose 1% in January after a 1.8% drop in the prior month. 

Motor vehicles and parts output rose 0.5% after a 1.7% decline in the prior month. Excluding autos, total industrial output unchanged.

Utilities output sank 9.9% in January due to warm weather. That follows a 5.1% gain in the prior month.

Mining output, which includes oil and natural gas, rose 1% after a 1.8% fall in the prior month.

Big picture: After showing strength throughout the pandemic, manufacturing has slipped into contraction territory. Higher interest rates have slowed business investment and there is a sense firms have been cutting back due to talk about a much-anticipated recession.

“The pandemic-induced boom in goods demand is decidedly in the rear-view mirror, and a challenging macroeconomic environment will lead factory output to fall in 2023,” said Oren Klachkin, an economist at Oxford Economics, in a recent note to clients.

Market reaction: Stocks

opened lower on Wednesday after strong retail sales data. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
jumped to 3.77%.


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