metals producers saw both capacity utilization and output fall
in May, while fabricators activity remained flat compared
capacity utilization stood at 72.6 percent, down 0.7 points
from Aprils 73.3 percent to the lowest level in the past
six months, according to Federal Reserve Board data. Metal
fabricators capacity utilization of 84.7 percent was
unchanged from April but trailed the six-month high of 85.6
percent in February.
production index for primary metals producers fell to 96 in May
from 97 the previous month, also the lowest level in the past
six months, while the production index for fabricators was flat
at 94.6 but fell below the 95.5-point high seen in the past six
The mining industrial
production index reached 117.5 in May, the highest level in the
past six months, while capacity utilization rose 0.3 points
from April to 88.2 percent.
Mays index for
motor vehicle output was at 105.8, with capacity utilization at
75.6 percent, both six-month highs.
"The numbers may
indicate a downshifting growth profile for the manufacturing
sector. Manufacturing did improve by 5 percent annualized in
the first quarter, but only a strong June reading would
forestall a second-quarter contraction," Erik Johnson, senior
U.S. economist at Lexington, Mass.-based consultancy IHS Global
Insight Inc., said. "The sequester will hurt growth through the
end of the year. Slowing growth in emerging markets and a
lengthy eurozone recession have muted foreign demand. This is
hurting manufacturing and prompting businesses to remain ultra
cautious about hiring and capital spending."