Industrial production rose 0.3% last month after having dropped 0.7% in February.

For the first quarter as a whole, output declined at an annual rate of 0.1% after edging up at a rate of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Manufacturing production rose 0.1% in March. Factory output was held down by a large decline in the output of motor vehicles and parts; a shortage of motor vehicle parts that resulted from a strike at a parts manufacturer idled a number of motor vehicle assembly plants.

Outside of motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing production moved up 0.4% after having fallen 0.5% in February. In March, the output of mines increased 0.9%, and the output of utilities advanced 1.9%. At 112.1% of its 2002 average, total industrial production was 1.6% above its year-earlier level.

The capacity utilization rate for total industry in March rose 0.2%, to 80.5%.

— Market News International

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