Industrial production decreased 0.3% in January 2014, following December’s 0.3% gain. Due partially to adverse winter conditions, factory output dropped 0.8% in January 2014. Consumers’ usage of energy in response to the cold snap translated to a 4.1% increase of utilities output in January 2014. Mine production declined 0.9% in January after December 2013’s advances. Total industry capacity utilization dipped to 78.5% in January, which is 1.6 percentage points under its 1972–2012 average. January 2014 total industrial production was 2.9% above its level from last year.
For February 2014, the Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) registered at 53.2%, 1.9 percentage points higher than January’s seasonally adjusted reading of 51.3%. Many managers are still attributing decreased business activity and distribution to the frigid weather and wintery conditions. Nonetheless, leadership remains positive in their outlook for the rest of the year with expectations of growth. Fourteen of 18 manufacturing industries expanded in February 2014, including chemical products; plastics & rubber products; primary metals; fabricated metal products; electrical equipment, appliances & components; transportation equipment; and machinery. Among the industries reporting contraction in February were petroleum & coal products and miscellaneous manufacturing.
The Consumer Confidence Index increased again in January 2014, following December 2013 monthly gains. The index now stands at 80.7, up from 77.5 in December. Although consumers remain skeptical about a long-term, viable job market, they are positive in their assessment of business conditions, earnings improvements, and the economy as a whole.
New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 1.0% or $2.2 billion in January 2014, to $225.0 billion. Shipments of manufactured durable goods in January decreased 0.4% or $900 million, to $232.3 billion. Transportation equipment orders declined 5.6% or $4.0 billion to a total of $67.3 billion, driving down overall new orders.
According to the second estimate, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of 2.4% in Q4 2013. Real GDP in Q3 2013 increased 4.1%. The projected increase of real GDP in Q4 2013 reflects positive contributions from exports, personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and municipal spending. However, Q4 2013’s rise in imports was a factor in the deceleration of real GDP.
In January 2014, the chemical and allied products PPI increased 3.1 percentage points to 279.4 from December’s reading of 276.3.