Industrial production recorded its biggest drop in more than 2-1/2 years in March, weighed down by a decline in mining and utilities output, fresh evidence that economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter.
Industrial production fell 0.6 percent after edging up 0.1 percent in February, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. March’s decline was the largest since August 2012 and was worse than economists’ expectations for only a 0.3 percent drop.
Manufacturing output ticked up 0.1 percent. Utilities production tumbled 5.9 percent, reversing February’s 5.7 percent increase. A 17.7 percent plunge in oil and gas well drilling pulled mining production down 0.7 percent last month.
For the first quarter, industrial production declined at an annual rate of 1.0 percent, the first quarterly decrease since the second quarter of 2009. Oil and gas well drilling and servicing, which tumbled at a more than 60 percent annual rate, accounted for the bulk of the drop in industrial output in the first quarter.