U.S. Industrial Production Bounces Back

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The Federal Reserve reported this morning that U.S. industrial production rose 0.7% month-over-month in February, following a flat reading in January. The total index rose to 99.5, up from a revised 98.8 in January.

Compared with February 2012, the index is up 2.5%, with the largest changes in yearly growth coming in business equipment and utilities. Every category in the Fed’s report is up year-over-year.

For the month, only mining production showed a decline, down 0.3%, for a third consecutive month of contraction. Again, the sharpest growth came in business equipment, up 2.5% month-over-month.

Total capacity utilization rose to 79.6%, up 1.7% since February of 2012 but still below the long-run capacity utilization rate of 80.2%. Capacity utilization fell to a low in 2009 of 66.8%.

Today’s report beats the consensus estimate of 0.5% growth in industrial production and the 79.4% estimate for capacity utilization. Combined with the positive readings in today’s Empire State manufacturing index, it is fair to say that U.S. manufacturing is continuing to make slow progress. Now if only the growth in production would produce some jobs.

The current Fed report is available here.

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