Industrial production and capacity utilization data for March 2017 are now available.
Industrial production increased 0.5 percent in March after moving up 0.1 percent in February. The increase in March was more than accounted for by a jump of 8.6 percent in the output of utilities-the largest in the history of the index-as the demand for heating returned to seasonal norms after being suppressed by unusually warm weather in February. Manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent in March, led by a large step-down in the production of motor vehicles and parts; factory output aside from motor vehicles and parts moved down 0.2 percent. The production at mines edged up 0.1 percent. For the first quarter as a whole, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 1.5 percent. At 104.1 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in March was 1.5 percent above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.4 percentage point in March to 76.1 percent, a rate that is 3.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2016) average.