One-third of U.S. factories sitting idle
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Steve Chiotakis: Here at home, a couple of economic reports due later this morning should give us an idea of just how low this economy can go. The Federal Reserve will release the latest on U.S. industrial production in a couple of hours, while the Commerce department is tracking housing starts. Marketplace’s Steve Henn tells us what Wall Street is looking for.
Steve Henn: The Fed’s monthly industrial production figure tracks the total output of U.S. factories and mines.
A survey of economists by Bloomberg shows the expectation is that the U.S. was using just 68 percent of that capacity last month. That means roughly a third of all U.S. plants were sitting idle in May. Those grim stats were made worse by Chrysler closing its factories last month in a desperate attempt to trim its backlog of unsold vehicles.
But on the upside, the Commerce Department expected to report that housing starts rose in May — up from all-time lows in April. However, a recent surge in interest rates is making monthly payments on new homes more expensive, and a new wave foreclosures may add to the glut homes already on the market. So any glimmers of hope in the housing market could be short lived.
In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
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