This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Strong Auto Output Boosts US Factory Production

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A strong increase in auto output boosted U.S. factory production last month, the latest sign that manufacturing is helping drive economic growth after lagging for much of 2012.

Factory output rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in February from January, after falling 0.3 percent in the previous month, the Federal Reserve said Friday.

The biggest gain was in autos and auto parts, where production increased 3.6 percent after falling 4.9 percent in January. Car sales have risen steadily this year after reaching a five year high in 2012.

Overall industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent in February. That is the most in three months. Utility output jumped 1.6 percent while mining output, which covers oil and gas drilling, fell 0.3 percent, the third straight decline.

Still, economists were encouraged by the broad-based gains in factory output. Rising home construction and increased business investment in machinery and other goods are also boosting manufacturers. The Fed's measure of factory production is at its highest level in more than four and a half years.

Production of construction supplies, which includes steel, cement and wood products, rose 1.5 percent, the fourth straight solid gain. Factories also cranked out more industrial machinery, appliances, and furniture.

"Growth has clearly picked up," Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients. "This is another positive sign" for the economy in the January-March quarter.

O'Sullivan forecasts that growth will jump to a 3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, after barely expanding in the final three months of last year.

Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse, said the healthy increase in output suggests manufacturers will need step up hiring in the months ahead. Factory job gains could rise to 20,000 a month, up from average gains of 13,000 in the past three months.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG

Markets

Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,550.69 -47.51 -0.27%
S&P 500 2,093.32 -4.72 -0.22%
NASDAQ 5,105.5460 -9.8360 -0.19%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs