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US Industrial Production Rebounds Sharply in February

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US Industrial Production Rebounds Sharply in February

US industrial output rebounded sharply in February, a sign the US economy is gaining momentum after severe weather dampened activity.

Total industrial production rose at a seasonally adjusted pace of 0.6 percent in February, the Federal Reserve reported today in Washington. Industrial production, which measures total output in the manufacturing, utilities and mining industries, had fallen 0.2 percent in January.

Manufacturing output, which represents the largest component of industrial production, rose 0.8 percent last month, its biggest increase since August 2013. That followed a revised 0.9 percent drop the previous month that was the biggest since May 2009.

Mining output, which includes oil drilling, rose 0.3 percent. Utility output declined 0.2 percent in February after posting a revised 3.8 percent gain the prior month.

Compared to year-ago levels, total output was 2.8 percent higher in February. Manufacturing rose 1.5 percent annually, while mining increased 6.1 percent over the previous 12 month period. The utilities industry experienced the sharpest year-on-year gain, rising 8.3 percent.

Industrial capacity utilization, which is used to gauge how fully companies are using their factory resources, rose 0.3 percentage points to 78.8. Capacity utilization was 1.3 percentage points below its long-run average, which covers the period 1972-2013.

The return to growth is the latest sign the US economy was regaining momentum in February. Winter storms and unusually cold temperatures in the Midwestern and eastern United States had slowed the pace of US recovery this winter.

A separate report today showed factory activity in the New York region continued to improve in March. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire States general business conditions index rose from 4.48 to 5.61.

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