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First Cut: February industrial production gets a boost from utilities, but is otherwise mostly lackluster

Industrial production rose 0.6% in February after declining 0.5% in January. The increase was almost entirely due to a 7.1% resurgence in utilities output as February turned colder after January. Manufacturing managed a scant 0.1% month-over-month increase as aircraft production remained moribund and mining declined 1.5% as drops in oil prices restrained production.

In manufacturing, aerospace output was down 2.2%, although motor vehicles and parts managed to increase 3.5%. However, excluding motor vehicles, manufacturing was down 0.2%.

In mining, oil and gas well drilling was down 0.5%. For utilities, electric production was up 6.1% and natural gas rose 12.5%.

This is another of the reports taken before measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 were taken. If the positive reading would not have been dismissed given its concentration in utilities and weather-related movements, the timing of the numbers has to be considered in light of recent developments.

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