February 18, 2019

U.S. Industrial Production Down In January


  • According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production in the United States fell 0.6 percent in January after rising 0.1 percent in December. Manufacturing output fell 0.9 percent, primarily due to a large drop in motor vehicle assemblies. Mining production edged up 0.1 percent while utilities output increased 0.4 percent.
  • The U.S. Commerce Department announced last week that trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments fell 0.3 percent from October 2018 to November 2018, but increased 4.2 percent between November 2017 and November 2018. Inventories fell 0.1 percent for the month, but were up 4.6 percent year-over-year.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales fell for the third month in a row in December, dropping 1.3 percent to $56.4 billion due to a 10.4 percent decline in the sales of petroleum and coal products.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, manufacturing activity grew modestly this month as the bank’s index rose five points to +8.8. New orders and shipments improved while labor market indicators pointed to a slight increase in employment and hours worked.
  • The number of jobs open in the United States surged to a record level of 7.3 million in December 2018, including 428,000 in the manufacturing industry. In other jobs-related news: the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits rose to 239,000 for the week that ended Feb. 9, up from 235,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also rose, as did the number of individuals who continued to receive benefits. That number rose to 1.773 million for the week that ended Feb. 2, up from 1.736 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also rose.
  • According to the National Federation of Independent Business, its Small Business Optimism Index fell 3.2 points in January due to rising concern about future economic growth. The reading was lowest since the weeks leading up to the 2016 elections, but is “well above the historical average of 98.”
  • In other economic news: the U.S. consumer price index was unchanged from December 2018 to January 2019 and increased 1.6 percent between January 2018 and January 2019; the U.S. producer price index fell 0.1 percent for the month of January and increased two percent year-over-year; and U.S. import prices fell 0.5 percent in January while export prices decreased 0.6 percent.