Industrial production increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% for March, according to a Federal Reserve report (link opens in PDF) released today.
After jumping 0.7% in February , market analysts had expected a mild March increase of 0.2%. These latest numbers provide a pleasant surprise, but much of the gain came from utilities output, according to The Wall Street Journal, which was up 5.3% as unusually cold weather drove up demand for heat..
After rising 0.9% for February, manufacturing fell 0.1% in March. Analysts had predicted a 0.1% rise. Durable goods felt a widespread 0.2% drop, although motor vehicles & parts and machinery bumped up 2.9% and 0.3%, respectively. Nondurable goods production increased 1.2% including consumer energy products, but was unchanged without.
In a positive sign for industrial efficiency, the capacity utilization rate improved 0.2 percentage points to 78.5% for March, beating analyst expectations of a 78.3% rate.
Looking back over the last year, March's industrial production clocked in 3.5% above its 2012 rate, while capacity utilization improved 1.2 percentage points.