U.S. industrial production fell in March, data released by the Federal Reserve Friday showed. Manufacturing output dropped by the most in a year while mining output continued to shrink, signaling a slump in economic growth in the first quarter.
Industrial production data decreased 0.6 percent in March, the Federal Reserve said in the release, after a 0.6 percent drop in February. The numbers, which are seen as broad gauge of output across U.S. factories, mines and power plants, have noted falls in six of the last seven months.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast industrial production slipping 0.1 percent in March
"The first quarter was clearly a dud, but there are reasons to be optimistic. There are still measurement issues, with the residual seasonality in GDP, and history shows that reverses in the second quarter," Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Westchester, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.
Industrial outputs have continued to shrink as a slowing global economy and a robust dollar have dented the market for U.S.-manufactured goods. Sharply lower oil prices have also undercut production in the energy sector as well as stalled expansion projects.
Mining production tumbled 2.9 percent in March as oil and gas well drilling plummeted 8.5 percent following a sharper dive of 15.8 percent in February.
On the manufacturing side, production of motor vehicles and parts declined the most, falling 1.6 percent in the month, followed by production of electrical equipment, appliances and components.
For the first quarter as a whole, industrial production fell at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, Friday’s release showed.