The Big Four - Industrial Production: Down 2.2% In February

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:

The Latest Indicator Data

Today's report on Industrial Production for February shows a 2.24% decrease month-over-month, which was below the Investing.com consensus of 0.3%. The year-over-year change is -4.25%, down from last month's YoY decrease.

Here is the overview from the Federal Reserve:

In February, total industrial production decreased 2.2 percent. Manufacturing output and mining production fell 3.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively; the output of utilities increased 7.4 percent.

The severe winter weather in the south central region of the country in mid-February accounted for the bulk of the declines in output for the month. Most notably, some petroleum refineries, petrochemical facilities, and plastic resin plants suffered damage from the deep freeze and were offline for the rest of the month. Excluding the effects of the winter weather would have resulted in an index for manufacturing that fell about 1/2 percent and in an index for mining that rose about 1/2 percent. Both indexes would have remained below their pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels.[1]

At 104.7 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in February was 4.2 percent lower than its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 1.7 percentage points in February to 73.8 percent, a rate that is 5.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2020) average. [view full report]

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