Industrial production in the U.S. rose by 0.5% in March, according to the Federal Reserve. The Fed pointed to the winter weather to explain the growth, noting an 8.6% surge in utilities generation. It was the largest increase in utilities output on record, thanks to heating demand returning to seasonal norms after being suppressed by an unusually warm February, the Fed reported.
The 0.5% growth exactly matched economists’ predictions for industrial output. It was also an improvement over the previous month’s flat reading.
Factory output, however, fell unexpectedly in March, dropping by 0.4%. It was the first loss in seven months. The biggest decline was in automobile production, with motor vehicles and parts manufacturing decreasing by 3%, according to the Fed. Only computers and electronics output experienced growth last month, with an increase of around 1%.
Capacity utilization, the percentage of production capacity being used in the U.S., rose to 76.1% in March, up from 75.4%, in line with economists’ expectations.