Overall industrial production dropped off 0.6% for April, according to a Federal Reserve report (link opens as PDF) released today.
After jumping a revised 0.9% for March, analysts hadn't expected much from April, but their flat-line estimate proved overly optimistic. Still, with February growth clocking in at 1.1%, 2014 has been a fairly solid year for overall industrial production. January notched -0.2%. The government says "severe weather" constrained production early in the quarter.
While all major market groups declined from March to April, final products took the hardest hit, down 1%. Consumer goods saw an especially deep 1.3% cut, and a recent retail report showing retail spending barely budged in April suggests that hesitation on the production line might be warranted.
Breaking production down by industries, utilities dropped off 5.3% (households used less heat as temperatures rose), manufacturing declined 0.4%, and mining production grew 1.4%. Analysts had expected much more from manufacturing, with average estimates showing 0.4% growth.
Overall capacity utilization (a measure of production efficiency) fell 0.7 percentage points to 78.6% -- well below expectations of a slight 0.1-percentage-point decline.
April didn't create any industrial optimists, but after February's and March's major growth, May will be worth watching to see how things are shaping up longer term.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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