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Industrial production and capacity utilization for March 1993.

The revised data described in the previous article were released for publication on May 14. What follows is the summary of the earlier, unrevised indexes released on April 15.

Industrial production was unchanged in March, after having shown strong gains since October. In part, the slowdown reflects the loss of output after the severe mid-March storm along the East Coast; available evidence suggests that these losses were only partly made up by month-end. The industries most affected by the storm include textiles, steel, furniture, tobacco, and coal mining, although the exact magnitudes of these effects are tentative. Overall, the output of consumer goods, intermediate products, and materials were little changed in March; the production of business equipment increased 0.4 percent after an average gain of more than 1 percent a month since October. At 1 12.0 percent of its 1987 average, total industrial production was 4.1 percent above its year-ago level. Total industrial capacity utilization declined 0.2 percentage point, to 79.9 percent.

Within consumer goods industries, declines in the production of motor vehicles and gasoline were mostly offset by gains in the output of appliances and residential utilities. The deceleration in business equipment reflected a small decline in the production of industrial equipment, which had grown more than 0.5 percent a month since October, and a slight easing in the pace of production of information-processing equipment, which had grown at a rapid pace since December. Cutbacks in the output of defense and space equipment continue to weaken the industrial sector: During the past few months, production has fallen an average of more than 1/2 percent a month. Production of construction supplies slipped back slightly after increasing more than 1 percent in each of the preceding two months. An increase in the output of nondurable materials was offset by a decline in energy materials. Much of the increase in nondurables reflected a pickup in paper production.

Manufacturing output edged up 0.1 percent as production of durables moved up slightly. Most of the impetus within durables came from the machinery industries, while production in most other industries either rose only slightly or declined. The largest decline was in transportation equipment, where aircraft manufacturing continued to contract; the output of motor vehicles and parts also decreased for a second straight month. Within nondurables, paper production increased notably, but the output of petroleum, textile, and tobacco products dropped. Capacity utilization in manufacturing edged down 0.1 percentage point, to 79. 1 percent.

Mining output declined, as continued weakness in oil and gas well drilling augmented the cutback in coal mining. The output of utilities picked up a little with the persistence of relatively cool temperatures.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Publication:Federal Reserve Bulletin
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:449
Previous Article:Industrial production, capacity, and capacity utilization since 1987.
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