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Industrial Production Down 0.1% in March

Industrial production edged down 0.1% in March after edging up 0.1% in February; for the first quarter as a whole, the index slipped 0.3% at an annual rate, according to the Federal Reserve. Manufacturing production was unchanged in March after declining in both January and February. The index for utilities rose 0.2%, while mining output moved down 0.8%. At 110.2% of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 2.8% higher in March than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.2% in March to 78.8%, a rate that is 1.0% below its long-run (1972–2018) average.

Manufacturing output was unchanged in March and moved down at an annual rate of 1.1% in the first quarter. The output of durables edged down in March. Losses of more than 2% were registered by wood products and by motor vehicles and parts, while gains of more than 1% were registered by primary metals and by computer and electronic products. The production of nondurables inched up as a result of increases in the indexes for textile and product mills, for petroleum and coal products, and for chemicals. The index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) edged down, remaining well below its year-earlier level. 

The output of utilities rose 0.2% in March; the output of natural gas utilities climbed nearly 4%, while the output of electric utilities stepped down. Mining output declined 0.8% but remained 10.5% above its level of a year earlier. 

Capacity utilization for manufacturing edged down 0.1% in March to 76.4%, about 2% below its long-run average. The utilization rate for durable manufacturing declined, while capacity utilization rates for nondurable manufacturing and for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) were unchanged. Capacity utilization for mining decreased to 90.9% but was still above its long-run average of 87.1%. The utilization rate for utilities was unchanged at 79.9% and remained 5.5% below its long-run average.

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