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 user 2004-03-16 at 9:58:00 am Views: 85
  • #6573

    U.S. Industrial Production Rises .7 Percent in February

    U.S. industrial production rose a larger-than-forecast 0.7 percent in February as companies made more cars, electronics and business equipment, a report from the Federal Reserve showed.

    The increase in production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities followed a 0.8 percent rise in January, the largest two-month gain since October-November 1999, according to the Fed. The proportion of industrial capacity in use rose to 76.6 percent, the highest since August 2001, from 76.1 percent.

    Economists had expected a 0.4 percent increase in industrial production, according to the median of 65 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

    Production may cool in coming months, a report from the Buffalo branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggested. Fewer manufacturers reported a rise in new orders this month than last, which helped push down the New York Fed’s factory index to 25.3 in March, the lowest since September, from an all-time high of 42.1.

    Work at factories, which accounts for almost 90 percent of industrial production, rose 1 percent last month after rising 0.2 percent in January. Production of consumer durable goods, which includes automobiles, furniture and electronics, rose 1 percent after increasing 0.7 percent the previous month.

    Business equipment production, such as transportation and information processing equipment, rose 1.1 percent in February after increasing 0.6 percent the previous month. Production of technology equipment, including computers, communications gear and semiconductors, rose 2.1 percent last month after increasing 2.5 percent.

    Businesses so far haven’t been able to restock warehouses fast enough to meet demand. Inventories rose 0.1 percent in January, a fifth straight gain, while sales rose 0.4 percent, the Commerce Department reported. The ratio of inventories to sales held at a record-low 1.33 months’ supply.

    The economy is projected to expand 4.6 percent this year, the most since 1984, according to the median estimate of a separate Bloomberg News survey this month.