American factories flexed some muscle in April, boosting output by the most since February 2014 in broad fashion. Along with gains at mines and utilities, total industrial output was also the strongest in more than three years, Federal Reserve data showed Tuesday.
Highlights of April industrial production:
Factory production rose 1% (forecast called for a 0.4% gain) after a 0.4% drop in March.
Total industrial production, which also includes mines and utilities, also increased 1% (forecast was for 0.4% gain) after a revised 0.4% gain.
Capacity utilization, which measures the amount of a plant that is in use, climbed to 76.7%, the highest since August 2015, from 76.1% in the prior month (forecast was 76.3%).
The jump in U.S. manufacturing was broad-based and included the largest surge in motor vehicles and parts production since July 2015, according to the Fed. Output also picked up for consumer goods and business equipment, two sources of strength for the economy. With brighter global growth prospects, signs that businesses are more open to investment, and a firm labor market that’s underpinning consumer demand, output may stay strong in coming months.
Utility output rose 0.7% after an 8.2% surge in March; the contiguous U.S. had the warmest April since 2012, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.
Production of motor vehicles increased 5%; excluding autos and parts, industrial production rose 0.7% for a second month.
Manufacturing output excluding vehicles and parts also rose 0.7% in April.
Mining output advanced 1.2%, led by gains in coal production and drilling; oil and gas well drilling, rose 9%.
Production of consumer goods rose 1.5%, the most since November 2014; output of business equipment climbed 1.2%.
Machinery production rose 0.9%.
By Michelle Jamrisko