U.S. industrial output stalls in May

WASHINGTON – U.S. industrial production held steady in May at 112.7 percent of its 2002 average, after edging up a revised 0.4 percent in April, according to a report today by the Federal Reserve. The Fed previously had estimated the April rise at 0.7 percent.
Compared with May 2006, industrial output rose 1.6 percent.
Analysts had anticipated a 0.2-percent increase in May from the previously reported April level, according to a survey of 79 economists by Bloomberg News.
The Fed cited a 1.3-percent decline in utility output last month as temperatures moderated after April’s unusually cold weather. Manufacturing-sector output rose 0.1 percent in May, slowing from April’s 0.2-percent increase, while mining output increased 0.5 percent, erasing most of April’s 0.6-percent decline.
Capacity utilization, which measures the proportion of plants in use, fell to 81.3 percent in May from 81.5 percent the month before, the Fed reported. Total utilization remained above the 1972 to 2006 average of 81.0 percent, but lagged the Bloomberg survey’s prediction of 81.6 percent.
“There may be a little bit of caution among manufacturers,” Carl Riccadonna, an economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg. “The pickup in manufacturing is not nearly as strong as [other] survey data would have us believe.”

The Federal Reserve statistical release on Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization is available at www.federalreserve.gov.

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