Amid a sudden drop off in manufacturing, U.S. industrial output growth slowed last month but remained strong overall thanks in part to higher energy consumption, the Federal Reserve said on April 17.
A return to cooler weather after February's warm spell saw utilities ramp up production, pushing the monthly result past analyst expectations.
Industrial production rose 0.5% in March, down from February's one percent gain but above the 0.3% economists had predicted.
Despite the slowdown, which could point to more sluggish growth in the first quarter, March was still 4.3% above the same month last year.
Manufacturing growth, however, nearly ground to a halt, edging up only 0.1% despite a 2.7% jump in the auto sector, with vehicle assemblies moving up to an annual rate of 12 million units -- the highest level since December of 2016.
Within the manufacturing sector, fabricated metal goods, computer and electronic equipment, printed matter, textiles and clothing all experienced sharp drops in March.
Total capacity in use rose to 78%, also overshooting a consensus forecast and up three tenths of a point from February -- but still below its long-term average.
Manufacturing capacity specifically fell 0.1% to 75.9%, also below average.
Oil and gas production drove the mining sector one percent higher -- although this was a slower gain than the 2.9% recorded in February.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2018