INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY UTILIZATION
Total industrial production rose 0.8 percent in November following a gain of 0.5 percent in October. Increases were widespread among most major market groups. Information processing equipment, and parts used in high-technology equipment, contributed notably to the gain. In addition, the production of motor vehicles, which had declined some in October, increased sharply. At 127.3 percent of its 1992 average, industrial production in November was 5.6 percent higher than in November 1996. The rate of industrial capacity utilization rose 0.3 percentage point, to 83.2 percent-its highest rate since September 1995.
The output of consumer goods rose 0.6 percent, with an increase in the production of durable consumer goods accounting for the gain. Automotive products rebounded sharply, and the output of other durables, including appliances, carpeting, and furniture, rose also. The production of nondurable consumer goods was little changed, as gains in the output of food and chemical products were about offset by declines in the use of fuels and electricity by consumers. Business equipment advanced 1.5 percent; the most sizable gains were in the production of transit equipment, which includes aircraft and motor vehicles for business use, and information processing equipment, which includes computers. The output of construction supplies rose 0.8 percent in both October and November reversing the decline in September. On balance, this sector has been about flat, albeit at a high level, for much of this year. The production of materials advanced for a third month, increasing 0.7 percent in November; most of the gain was in durable materials, mainly in parts for high-technology equipment and for motor vehicles. Nondurable materials posted a moderate gain; the production of energy materials was down because of declines in electricity generation and coal mining.
Manufacturing output rose 1.0 percent, its largest monthly gain since February 1996. Output in manufacturing excluding motor vehicles and parts was up 0.7 percent, with gains in most industries. The manufacture of durable goods rose 1.4 percent; most of those industries posted sizable increases, the largest of which were in transportation equipment, lumber, and electrical machinery. The production of nondurable goods rose 0.4 percent, its third successive month of moderate advances. Output in mining and at utilities both declined in November.
The operating rate in manufacturing rose 0.5 percentage point, to 82.3 percent-its highest level since September 1995. The utilization rate in advanced-processing industries was 80.6 percent, about equal to its long-term average. The increase of 0.5 percentage point for advanced-processing industries largely reflected a jump in utilization in the motor vehicle and parts industry. The operating rate in primary-processing industries rose 0.3 percentage point, to 86.0 percent, which is about the rate that has persisted so far this year.
G.17 Release Tables: