Industrial production increased 0.3% in November; the change in production over the previous three months was revised down, on net, an average of 0.1 percentage point per month. Total industrial production in November was 2.1% above its year-earlier level.
Output in the manufacturing sector increased 0.4% in November. The factory operating rate rose 0.2 percentage point in November, to 79.9%, a rate that is about equal to its 1972-2006 average. The production of durable goods moved up 0.8%. Many categories of durable goods showed production gains, notably computer and electronic products, motor vehicles and parts, and primary metals. Small decreases in output were recorded in wood products, nonmetallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, and miscellaneous manufacturing. The production of nondurable goods increased 0.1% after having decreased 0.7% in October. Significant declines in November were registered for textile and product mills, paper, and petroleum and coal products. However, the production of plastics and rubber products rose 1.3% , and the output of chemicals advanced 0.5%.
"The welcome rebound in U.S. manufacturing output growth during November, in tandem with other recent data, indicate that while factory activity remains sluggish, it has yet to fall into an actual contraction," said Cliff Waldman, Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "Most encouraging was the sharp rebound in business equipment production catalyzed by an acceleration in the growth of information processing equipment output, an indication that investment activity remains positive. But while the industrial production data are encouraging, diffusion indices suggest that less than half of manufacturing industries appear to be growing. The economic climate remains treacherous. The ongoing financial crisis is a serious challenge to the U.S. and global economies as is high oil prices, a protracted U.S. housing contraction, and shaky business and consumer confidence."
Capacity utilization for total industry edged up, to 81.5%, a rate slightly above its year-earlier level and 0.5 percentage point above its 1972-2006 average.