US manufacturing dropped sharply for the second consecutive month in February with across-the-board declines in nearly every category of product, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.
The decline kept overall industrial production from rebounding as analysts had forecast, despite a surge in the volatile utilities component.
Total output eked out a gain of 0.1%, after falling 0.4% in January — slightly better than originally reported — helped by the 3.7% surge in utilities, according to the monthly report.
But manufacturing — which is at the center of President Donald Trump’s aggressive trade policies — dropped 0.4% after a 0.5% decline in the prior month, which was an improvement on the 0.9% decline originally reported.
Within the manufacturing sector the negatives were widespread including losses of about 2% for nonmetallic mineral products and machinery.
Output of motor vehicles and parts saw just a small dip, which was good news after the 7.6% drop in January, while computers and electronic products gained more than 1%.
The drop in motor vehicle production was essentially cancelled out by the gain in parts output. But excluding those two, total output was down 0.2%, according to the report.
Mining output, which includes oil and natural gas, rose 0.3% for the second month in a row, marking the 13th consecutive monthly increase.
Total industrial production remains 3.5 % above February 2018, while manufacturing is up 1 %.
With the tepid output, totally industrial capacity in use dipped for the third consecutive month to 78.2%.