Heavy industry, mining and metals: stocks in this piece of the economy -- a big piece, some might say the piece -- were trading sharply higher across the board Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released better-than-anticipated data regarding the slowdown in industrial production.

According to the Fed, production decreased 0.4% in June from the previous month, slower than May's steep 1.2% drop and better than economists' predictions of a 0.6% decline. It also marks the smallest drop so far this year.

In response, stocks in relevant sectors, from bulldozer-maker Caterpillar ( CAT) to miner Freeport McMoRan ( FCX), burst higher on the news. So did the broader market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging more than 200 points Wednesday.

The Fed also released the minutes from its meeting on June 23 and 24, which contained encouraging words. Officials said they believe the recession may well be coming to an end "before long."

They also said they anticipate keeping interest rates low for "an extended period," even as they remained worried about the possibility of more economic shocks. Officials also indicated that unemployment could reach 10% at some point this year.

Among heavy industry names, the biggest gainers were Caterpillar, up 5.4% to $33.65; Dow Chemical ( DOW), up 6.4% to $16.36; Deere ( DE), which gained 4.7% to $38.60; DuPont ( DD), which advanced 5.3% to $26.90.; and US Steel ( X), up 7% to $34.89.

In the mining industry, Freeport McMoRan gained 6% to $51.18; Rio Tinto ( RTP) added 5.3% to $139.15; BHP Billiton ( BHP) was up 5% to $55.91; and Vale ( VALE) jumped 10% to $18. Even gold extractors gained ground Wednesday: Yamana ( AUY) was up 4.6% and Newmont Mining ( NEM) gained nearly 4%.
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