The Federal Reserve reported that manufacturing production rose 0.5 percent in April, bouncing back from being unchanged in March. Overall, the data continue to show healthy growth for manufacturers. Along those lines, the manufacturing production index has risen from 102.2 in April 2017 to 104.1 in the latest data. Likewise, capacity utilization in the sector has grown from 75.1 percent one year ago to 75.8 percent, the highest rate since August 2015. The year-over-year pace also remains encouraging, even with some easing in the most recent month, down from 2.5 percent growth over the past 12 months in March to 1.8 percent in April. Yet, that deceleration could say more about the data from last year than the most recent figures.
At the same time, total industrial production rose 0.7 percent in April for the second straight month. In addition to manufacturing, mining and utilities production increased 1.1 percent and 1.9 percent in April, respectively. Over the past 12 months, industrial production has risen 3.5 percent, pulling back marginally from the 3.7 percent pace in March, which was the best since November 2014. Mining and utilities output has risen 10.6 percent and 6.0 percent year-over-year, respectively. In addition, capacity utilization ticked up from 77.6 percent in March to 78.0 percent in April, the strongest rate since March 2015.