Tuesday, 16 March 2010

US industrial production rises in February

US industrial production increased in February. Bloomberg reports:

Industrial production unexpectedly rose in February, due in part to gains in demand for computers and semiconductors that signal the pickup in U.S. business investment is being sustained.

Output climbed 0.1 percent, the eighth consecutive increase, as utility use and mining increased, figures from the Federal Reserve showed today in Washington...

Capacity utilization, or the proportion of plants in use, climbed to 72.7 percent from 72.5 percent, today’s Fed production report showed. The gauge averaged 80 percent over the past two decades and suggests inflation will remain low...

Manufacturing output declined 0.2 percent after increasing 0.9 percent in January, the report showed. “Production was likely held down somewhat by winter storms in the Northeast,” the Fed said in the release.

There were indications that manufacturing expanded in March.

Manufacturing in the New York region expanded in March for an eighth consecutive month, a report from the Fed Bank of New York also showed today. The so-called Empire State index, in which figures greater than zero signal growth, fell to 22.9 from 24.9 in February. The bank’s employment gauge climbed to the highest level since October 2007.

Housing, however, remains weak.

Also today, homebuilder confidence unexpectedly declined in March, a sign the housing recovery is having trouble gaining momentum. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence dropped to 15 this month from 17 in February, the Washington-based group said. A reading below 50 means most respondents view conditions as poor.

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