US April industrial output declines by 0.5pc

Business | 16 May 2019 12:21 pm

U.S. industrial production fell in April, dragged by a big drop in factory output as production of autos and auto parts continued to slide.

Industrial output — reflecting total production at factories, utilities and mines — dropped by 0.5 percent in April after a 0.2 percent March gain, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. Industrial production fell 0.5 percent in February.

Manufacturing output fell by 0.5 percent, led by a 2.6 percent decline in motor vehicles and parts, which has fallen in three of the past four months.

Production at utilities fell by a sharp 3.5 percent. Production at mines, a sector that also covers oil and gas drilling, gained by 1.6 percent.

Manufacturing has struggled over the past year, reflecting weakness in auto sales and the global economy and rising trade tensions.

Industry analysts blame the decline in auto sales in the first quarter on rising vehicle prices, competition from an abundant supply of late-model used vehicles and relatively high interest rates.

In addition to falling auto sales, manufacturers have been battered by trade tensions stemming from President Donald Trump’s get-tough trade policies, which are aimed at narrowing America’s perennial trade deficits. He says they have cost America millions of manufacturing jobs.

Total industrial production is up by just 0.9 percent over the past year. Manufacturers in April operated at just 75.7 percent of capacity, down from 76.2 percent in March.-AP

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