WASHINGTON (UPI) — Industrial production rose 0.4 percent in March after rising 1.1 percent in February, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Tuesday.
For the first quarter, industrial output rose at an annual rate of 5 percent, the largest gain since the first quarter of 2012.
Manufacturing output in March slipped 0.1 percent after a gain of 0.9 percent in February. Manufacturing for the first quarter rose at an annual rate of 5.3 percent.
Production of consumer goods rose 1.1 percent in March to reach an annual rate of 6.2 percent in the first quarter, the largest increase since the final quarter of 1999.
The index was pushed by a sharp increase in the output of automobile products and a gain in electronics. However, production indexes for appliances, furniture, carpeting and miscellaneous goods declined.
Production at mines in March fell 0.2 percent and “edged down” in the first quarter, the Fed said.
Output at utilities jumped 5.3 percent, as “unusually cold weather drove up heating demand,” the report said.
At 99.5 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in March was 3.5 percent above its year-earlier level.
The capacity utilization among industrial firms — the percentage of production compared to companies going at full steam — slipped from 79.6 percent to 78.5 percent, a rate 1.2 percentage points above its level in March 2012, but 1.7 percent below its long run average.