Oil Muddies U.S. Economic Picture

Posted February 19, 2015 at 5:00am

“U.S. industrial output is about to run out of energy. The same can’t be said for the U.S. economy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  

“The Federal Reserve on Wednesday will release January figures on industrial production—the combined output of U.S. manufacturing, utility and mining sectors—and economists expect a gain of 0.4% from a month earlier. A pickup in manufacturing employment and hours, as well as auto-industry production schedules, suggest factory activity increased. There was a warm-weather downdraft in utility production in December that probably at least partially reversed itself last month.”  

“The problem area is mining. Although it conjures images of headlamps, pickaxes and coal-smeared faces, the sector is dominated by the oil-and-gas-extraction industries. Due to the shale boom, these have been major contributors to industrial output in recent years. In December, they accounted for 13.7% of total industrial production versus 7.8% a decade earlier.”