US manufacturing output rose above expectations in November following the end of a six-week strike at General Motors, leading to increased production in the auto industry. Manufacturing and industrial output both rose following more modest activity in October.
- Manufacturing output rose 1.1% last month after dropping 0.7% in October, downwardly revised.
- Industrial production fell a downwardly revised 0.9% in October and rose 1.1% last month.
- The figures beat expectations of a 0.7% and 0.8% increase in each sector respectively.
The Federal Reserve report on Tuesday indicates increased activity in manufacturing following a weaker month in October. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, which rose partially due to the end of the General Motors strike, manufacturing output and industrial production rose 0.5% and 0.3% respectively. The strike saw 46,000 workers return to the workforce after a four-year contract was agreed in a deal with General Motors and the United Auto Workers union. The measure of industrial activity accounts for activity in manufacturing, mining, and utilities.
— Whetstone Analysis LLC (@AnalysisLlc) December 17, 2019
Production at factories on an annual basis still dropped 0.8% in November. Capacity utilization, a measure that indicates how much of a firm’s resources are being used, rose 0.7% to 77.3% last month, a slight increase on the downwardly revised 76.6% seen in October.
Motor vehicles and parts saw 12.4% growth in production last month. Overall, production for consumer goods rose 2.1% with a 1.7% increase in business equipment. Utilities output rose 2.9% following a 2.4% drop the month before. Industrial production and manufacturing have suffered under the 17-month trade war with China, leading to tariffs on imported and exported goods vital to the industry. A tentative agreement was reached on Friday between the US and China leading to a reduction in US tariffs in exchange for China purchasing more US agricultural produce such as soy beans.
The trade war agreement, described as “Phase One”, could signal a gradual de-escalation in the conflict which has led to reduced business investment and lower activity in multiple sectors.
Gold prices are relatively unchanged on the day despite news of increased industrial activity and homebuilding in the US. Spot gold last traded at $1,475.52/oz, up 0.04% with a high of $1,480.28/oz and a low of $1,474.60/oz. Gold has held onto mild gains in the face of increased risk appetite following last week’s news of the preliminary trade agreement which led to gains in the US and European stock markets.