A warm January led to utilities dropping 4 percent for the month as Americans reduced their reliance on heat, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Overall, industrial production, which is measured in factory, mining and utility output, was down 0.3 percent last month, adjusted for the season.
Business investment declined in three out of four quarters in 2019. It was hampered by weak global growth and other factors like trade tensions between the U.S. and China and the coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged China with hundreds of deaths.
The aerospace industry was hit by the halted production on the Boeing 737 Max airplane. The production started in January, but its ceasing led to a 7.4 percent drop in the aerospace industry’s production levels. The issue may affect first-quarter economic growth in the U.S., economists theorized, and the economic effects of the coronavirus will hit hard, too.
But consumers aren’t feeling any of that. According to data and surveys by the government, there existed a schism between slightly depressed manufacturing numbers and consumer spending, which was up in January. Gregory Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics said it was an “ongoing dichotomy.”
The rise in spending was a relief to analysts after a weak holiday season. The consumer sentiment index increased to 100.9 this month from its last rating of 99.8, according to data from the University of Michigan released last week. That number is close to the post-recession peak set in March 2018 at 101.4. Only 7 percent of respondents mentioned concern about the coronavirus when surveyed.
The measure of retail sales in stores, online and at restaurants was up 0.3 percent in January, marking the strongest pace of growth since October.