U.S. Industry Boosts Output In April

By Agence France-Presse U.S. factories, mines and utilities ramped up production at a faster-than-expected rate in April, Federal Reserve data showed May 14, in a fresh sign of a warming economy. Total industrial production surged 0.8%, a sharper increase than the 0.5% boost predicted by private economists, after a dip of 0.1% the previous month. Production was up 4.8% from a year earlier. By sector, manufacturing output rose 0.7% in the month, mining output increased 0.8% and utilities belted out an extra 1.5%, the central bank said. "The strong, broad-based gains in manufacturing output during April indicate that the manufacturing recovery is not only continuing but strengthening," said Manufacturers Alliance economist Clifford Waldman. "Strong manufacturing activity has been generated by recoveries in business investment and exports, both of which have been supported by an accommodative monetary/fiscal policy mix as well as a weaker dollar." Factories were belting out goods faster than the pace of economic growth, which was typical in the early stages of a recovery, he said. "The industrial sector should continue to lead the economy into a healthy expansion with reasonable job generation," Waldman said. American industry used 76.9% of total capacity, a near three-year high, up from 76.5% the previous month, the Federal Reserve said. "While capacity utilization continued to improve during April, it remains below its 30-year average, indicating that there is still slack in the manufacturing sector and that price pressures are not a threat from strong manufacturing output," Waldman said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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