U.S. Industrial Output Rebounds

Jump due to energy sector.

After falling in the prior month, U.S. industrial production rebounded by a much stronger-than-expected 1% in February after falling in the prior month, the Federal Reserve said March 16. Most economists had been expecting the U.S. central bank's monthly snapshot of the nation's vast industrial sector, measuring the output of U.S. factories, mines and utilities, to show a rise of just 0.3%.

The spike in industrial output, the strongest gain since November 2005, was largely attributed to a hefty jump in gas and electricity output from the nation's utilities amid cold winter temperatures. The strong rebound comes despite a wider moderation of the world's biggest economy.

The rate of capacity utilization -- seen as a key measure of inflationary pressures for industry -- increased to a stronger-than-expected 82%, one percentage point above its 1972-2006 average.

Production at utilities, including gas and power plants, surged 6.7% in February while manufacturing production rose 0.4% and output from the nation's mines gained 0.1%.

The report showed a 3.4% year-over-year increase.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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