WASHINGTON, Sept 15 ― Output at US factories plunged in August due to the big hit from Hurricane Harvey that shut down huge parts of the nation’s oil refining, the Federal Reserve reported today.
The massive storm that hit the Gulf Coast of Texas late that month is estimated to have cut US industrial production by three-quarters of a percentage point, the report said.
Total industrial output fell by 0.9 per cent compared to July, driven down by the 0.3 per cent drop in manufacturing, which included big drops in output for oil, chemicals and plastics, as well as a 0.8 per cent drop in the mining sector, due to disruptions in drilling and extraction.
At the same time industrial capacity in use dropped to 76.1 per cent, down eight tenths from the prior month as the storm forced major shutdowns.
Economists had forecast an increase of 0.2 per cent in industrial production, and a slight rise in capacity utilisation, apparently not factoring in the likely impact of the hurricane on a major US industrial hub.
Manufacturing of energy products for consumers fell nearly five per cent in the month which the Fed said reflected in part the “hurricane-related reduction in petroleum refining.”
There were some positive elements in the report, including a rebound in manufacturing of motor vehicle and parts, which retraced half the decline seen in July.
And even with the hurricane-fueled declines, total output remains 1.5 per cent higher than August 2016, while mining is nearly 10 per cent higher and petroleum production is up almost three per cent.
In an explanatory note, the Fed explained that the hurricane impacts on many industries were estimated which means there could be big revisions in coming months. ― AFP
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