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U.S. industrial production makes gains

Posting in Energy

Industrial production in the United States rose 0.4 percent in September, partially reversing a 1.4 percent drop in August, according to new figures from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The play-by-play:

  • Industrial production declined at an annual rate of 0.4 percent for the third quarter.
  • Manufacturing output increased 0.2 percent in September but is down at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in Q3.
  • Production at mines ticked up 0.9 percent in September.
  • The output of utilities moved up 1.5 percent in September.
  • Total industrial production in September was 2.8 percent above the same time a year ago, but it's still 97 percent of the 2007 average.
  • Across all industries, capacity utilization moved up a smidge to 78.3 percent. That's two percentage points below its average between 1972 and 2011.

The Fed attributes about three-tenths of a percentage point of the decline in August to precautionary idling of production along the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of Hurricane Isaac; part of the rise in September is attributed to those facilities coming back online.

Other production statistics of note:

  • Consumer goods: unchanged in September after having fallen 1.5 percent in August.
  • Automotive products: fell 2.9 percent, a second consecutive large decline.
  • Home electronics and miscellaneous goods posted small declines.
  • Appliances, furniture and carpeting moved up.
  • Consumer energy products rose 0.8 percent after having fallen 2.7 percent in August.
  • Business equipment moved up 0.8 percent in September and was nearly 11 percent above its year-earlier level.
  • Transit equipment rose 1.7 percent in September after having dropped 3.3 percent in August. (September's gain was helped by an increase in the production of civilian aircraft.)
  • Information processing equipment moved up 0.5 percent.
  • Defense and space equipment gained 1.7 percent in September, helping the third quarter's 7 percent gain "more than reverse" a 5.7 percent decline in the second quarter.
  • Energy materials rose 0.9 percent following a large drop in August related to reduced oil and natural gas extraction in anticipation of Hurricane Isaac.

What it all means: U.S. industrial production is ahead of expectations, but still digging itself out of a large hole.

— By on October 15, 2012, 11:58 PM PST

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure