For April 2015 industrial production edged down 0.3% which marks the fifth successive monthly decline. Manufacturing output in April was flat while mining production and utilities output decreased 0.8% and 1.3%, respectively. Total industrial production in April 2015 was 1.9% above the same month in 2014, while industrial capacity utilization receded 0.4%, which is 1.9% lower than its 1972 to 2014 average.
The Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) for April was unchanged at 51.5%, halting the downward trend over the past three months. A value above 50 signifies expansion in the manufacturing industry. The outlook is mixed, with demand and new orders rising for certain industries, particularly those supporting the strong automotive sector, while some industries contend with the U.S. exchange rate and the aftermath of the West Coast ports slowdown. April’s PMI reflects a wider distribution of growth, with 15 of 18 manufacturing industries reporting expansion including primary metals; fabricated metal products; transportation equipment; machinery; chemical products; miscellaneous manufacturing; electrical equipment, appliances & components; and plastic & rubber products.
The Consumer Confidence Index grew modestly in May 2015 to 95.4, following April’s decline. Consumers’ short-term outlook was mixed to down as some expect business conditions to improve, while others believe the climate will worsen. According to the Present Situation Index, the overall sentiment was more optimistic due to a favorable perception of the labor market, yet generally expectations remain unchanged. The percentage of consumers anticipating higher income remained consistent, while the proportion expecting an earnings reduction edged up marginally.
New orders for manufactured durable goods in April 2015 declined 0.5% or $1.2 billion to $235.5 billion, with transportation equipment driving the reduction, sliding 2.5% or $2.0 billion to $77.9 billion. April’s shipments of manufactured durable goods edged down 0.1% or $0.1 billion to $240.5 billion from the month prior.
Per the advance estimate, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 0.2% in Q1 2015, versus 2.2% growth in Q4 2014. Q1 2015 expansion was attributed to gains in personal consumption expenditures and private inventory investment, which were partially offset by slowing exports, higher import volumes as well as negative contributions from nonresidential fixed investment and state and local government spending.
In April 2015, the chemical and allied products PPI decreased to 264.2 from March’s reading of 266.0.