U.S. Industrial Production Unexpectedly Declined in May

U.S. Industrial Production Unexpectedly Declined in May

Total industrial production, which also includes mines and utilities, decreased 0.1%.

Tesla vehicles are being assembled by robots at Tesla Motors Inc factory in Fremont, California, U.S. on July 25, 2016. They explained that a fire at a parts supplier played a role, but there was some weakness that the fire does not explain.

A sharp decline in manufacturing especially of autos caused total USA industrial output in May to dip for the first time since the start of the year, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. "It would be an oversimplification, however, to suggest that the weakness was all fire-related".

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By industry groups, manufacturing output was weakest, falling by 0.7% month-on-month, offset by increases of 1.8% and 1.1% in Mining and Utilities production, respectively. For now we will take some comfort in the notion that "one month does not a trend make". Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.2 percentage point in May to 77.9%, a rate that is 1.9 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2017) average.

Still, factory output has improved 1.7 percent over the past year and overall industrial production has increased 3.5 percent, while prices for materials continued to pick up, according to a survey released earlier this month by the Institute for Supply Management.

Other recent reports have indicated factories are on steadier ground. A stronger dollar also threatens to undermine demand for USA exports.

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Despite positive economic reports, the tariffs announced by the Trump administration have generated turmoil and uncertainty.

Trump has also announced steel and aluminum tariffs on USA allies such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Utility output rose 1.1% after climbing 3.2% the prior month. Economists had expected capacity utilization to tick up to 78.1%.

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