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US Manufacturing Down for Fifth Straight Month

May 15, 2015
Weak exports and the stronger dollar led to unexpected decline, the Federal Reserve reported.

U.S. industrial production declined for a fifth consecutive month in April as mining and utilities output fell and manufacturing stagnated, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

Total industrial output fell 0.3% for the second month in April. The March decline previously was estimated at 0.6%.

Analysts had expected industries would raise output a slight 0.1 percent in April. The nation's industrial output has fallen steadily since a 1.1% gain last November.

Weak exports and the stronger dollar hit factories in April. Manufacturing production was unchanged from March, when output had climbed for the first time in three months, by 0.3%. 

Utilities output fell 1.3% in April as warmer spring weather reduced heating demand.

Mining production fell for a fourth month in a row, by 0.8%, amid a decline in oil prices that has resulted in a sharp fall in oil and gas drilling.

With industrial output slowing, capacity utilization declined to 78.2% in April from 78.6% in March, well below the long-run average of 80.1%.

Year-over-year, April production was up 1.9%.

"These numbers don't look great but they are exactly what should be expected in the immediate aftermath of a plunge in oil prices in a country which is a big oil producer as well as a huge consumer," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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