The April Industrial production, (IP) report rises as capacity utilization came in at a three year high, gaining 0.7% month on month, (m/m) which is the third straight month of higher production. On a year on year, (y/y) basis, the IP index was up 3.5%. Prospects for continued growth in 2018 look promising indeed as companies will see a 14% decline in the corporate tax rate. An additional major benefit is the allowance to expense the costs of equipment immediately. This will result in more capital investment for manufacturing and construction equipment.

Industrial production is a pure measure of output, untainted by the effects of price swings, in the industrial part of the U.S. economy. Every month, the Federal Reserve calculates an index of industrial production after collecting data on 312 industry components representing manufacturing, mining, and the electric and gas industries. The individual series are constructed from two types of source data: (1) output measured in physical units and (2) data on inputs into the production process, in which output is inferred. Each component is given a weight based on how important it is to the economy. These weights are adjusted once a year. The current reference period for the index is 2002.

Factory output, which has risen 0.5% m/m and 1.8% y/y, has increased due to households buying more consumer goods and more companies investing in new equipment as the economy strengthens.

ip-fig1Figure 1 illustrates the U.S. industrial production from 2010 to present as a three month moving average, (3MMA) on the left hand Y axis. Year on year change in percent is shown on the right hand Y axis. The 3MMA in April was 107.31 up 0.7% m/m and up 3.5% year on year.

The economy continues to be stable both domestically and globally. Supporting this argument is the weak U.S. dollar and the tax cuts issued by the current administration. Economists still express concerns about the labor constraints and rising wage pressures in the goods industry.

We monitor U.S. Industrial Production at Gerdau because it gives a real time evaluation of the current health and insight on the short-range future of the manufacturing sector.