Industrial Production Edges Down

The Federal Reserve released its latest monthly report on domestic production and capacity utilization this morning, revealing a generally weaker environment in January than was seen in December.

The total industrial production index dropped 0.1% to rest at 98.6% of 2007 levels.This follows a 0.4% month-to-month rise notched in December.

While three of the six major market groups -- final products, consumer goods, and materials -- posted preliminary declines in the first month of the year, all six market groups are producing more than they did a year ago. The business equipment category has been growing the most, advancing 6.9% in the last year, boosted by a 16% spike in transit equipment production over that time.

Overall capacity utilization in January dropped 0.2% to 79.1%, slightly below the 40-year average of 80.2%.

While manufacturing output dropped 0.4% in January, it is 1.7% higher than year-ago levels.Meanwhile, output from electric and natural gas utilities surged 3.5% in January to rebound from a steep 4.5% decline in December, bringing overall utilities production to rest 5.9% above its January 2012 levels. All January data are preliminary and may be revised.

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