Industrial production rises, led by motor vehicles, parts

Industrial production rose 0.1 percent in November after a revised drop of 0.6 percent in October. At 110.8 percent of its 1997 average, output was 1.8 percent above its level in November 2001. Manufacturing output edged up 0.1 percent in November; the increase was led by a sharp rebound in the production of motor vehicles and parts. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output declined 0.3 percent in both November and October. Capacity utilization for total industry edged up to 75.6 percent, a level 0.5 percentage point above that of November 2001 and 5.9 percentage points below its 1972-2001 average. The output of consumer goods rose 0.8 percent in November. A 2.8 percent rise in the production of durables was led by a 4.6 percent increase in automotive products. The index for appliances, furniture, and carpeting moved up 0.8 percent. A 1.3 percent rise in the output of energy products pulled up the nondurable consumer goods category, which edged up 0.1 percent. The production of nondurable non-energy products slipped 0.1 percent; declines in the output indexes for foods and tobacco and for paper products more than offset increases in the output of chemical products and clothing. The production of business equipment declined 0.4 percent. An increase in the production of information processing equipment was more than offset by further decreases in industrial and other equipment and in transit equipment. Declines in the production of heavy trucks, medium trucks, and commercial aircraft contributed to a 1.2 percent reduction in the output of transit equipment; the index was 15.7 percent lower than its level in November 2001. The output of defense and space equipment edged up further and was more than 3 percent higher than its year-ago level. After having changed little, on balance, over the previous few months, the output of construction supplies dropped 0.9 percent. The production of business supplies dipped 0.2 percent. The production of industrial materials rose 0.1 percent. Both the durable and nondurable groups had slight declines, but energy materials increased 0.8 percent. A bounceback in the extraction of oil and natural gas, which had been curtailed in September and October by storms in the Gulf Coast region, more than accounted for the November gain. Manufacturing output edged up 0.1 percent in November. The overall factory operating rate held even at 73.8 percent, a level 0.4 percentage point above its year-ago level and 6.6 percentage points below its 1972-2001 average. Bolstered by a 3.9 percent increase in the production of motor vehicles and parts, the output of durable goods rose 0.3 percent.In the motor vehicles category, the indexes for both autos and light trucks registered large increases, while the index for medium and heavy trucks registered a sizable decline. Among other durable goods categories, the indexes for computer and electronic products and for electrical equipment, appliances, and components registered gains, while the indexes for all other major categories fell. The largest declines were for fabricated metal products, wood products, primary metals, and aerospace and other miscellaneous transportation equipment. Among nondurables, a 3.3 percent increase in the output of petroleum and coal products reversed the large declines in the two preceding months. Increases in the output of distillate fuel oil and automotive gasoline were largely responsible for the rise. The index for plastics and rubber products fell 1.2 percent, its fourth consecutive monthly decline. The production of other manufacturing industries (publishing and logging) decreased 0.7 percent.

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