Manufacturing output advanced slightly in March, driving a 0.8% increase in U.S. industrial production for the month. This translates into a 5.9% rise in the index year over year and reflects a 6% (annualized) uptick for the first quarter as a whole.

Some highlights from the report:

Industry Groups. The production index for durable goods advanced 1.0 percent in March, with widespread gains seen across its major categories. The output of motor vehicles and parts rose 3.0 percent following an increase of 4.6 percent in February; since December 2010, total motor vehicle assemblies have risen about 1.3 million units to an annual rate of 8.9 million units.

Sizable gains in output during March also were recorded in the following industries: wood products, fabricated metal products, nonmetallic mineral products, and aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment. Among other industries, smaller increases were recorded for primary metals; machinery; computer and electronic products; electrical equipment, appliances, and components; and furniture and related products.
The production of nondurables rose 0.5 percent in March and at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the first quarter. In March, a small decline for food, beverage, and tobacco products and larger declines for apparel and leather, for textiles, and for printing were more than offset by large gains for chemicals and for paper.

Market Groups. The production of consumer goods increased 0.9 percent in March and rose at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the first quarter. The output of consumer durable goods moved up 2.1 percent during the month, with gains realized in nearly all of its major categories. The production of automotive products advanced 3.6 percent and was 15.4 percent above its year-earlier level. The index for home electronics increased 0.7 percent, and the index for appliances, furniture, and carpeting climbed 2.0 percent. However, the production of miscellaneous consumer durables decreased 0.4 percent.

The output of non-energy nondurable goods rose 0.3 percent, as gains in chemical products and in paper products more than offset declines in clothing and in foods and tobacco. The output of consumer energy products advanced 1.3 percent, as residential sales by utilities increased but the production of fuels decreased.

The index for business equipment rose 0.4 percent in March after three months of gains of 1.0 percent or more. For the first quarter as a whole, the output of business equipment advanced at an annual rate of 15.3 percent with sizable increases in each of its three main components. For March, the output of transit equipment rose 1.8 percent, its third consecutive monthly increase, and the index for information processing equipment moved up 0.5 percent. The production of industrial and other equipment edged down for a second consecutive month. Nonetheless, this index jumped at an annual rate of nearly 16 percent for the first quarter as a whole.

Lastly, the production index for defense and space equipment gained 1.1 percent in March after having increased 2.2 percent the previous month. This index rose 5.9 percent during the 12 months ending in March.

The complete U.S. Industrial Report for March is available from the Federal Reserve