U.S. Industrial Output Shows Small Increase

Manufacturing activity, however, dropped 0.2% in February.

Industrial production inched up 0.1% in February, grinding to a near-halt amid severe snow storms that crippled large parts of the East Coast, Federal Reserve data showed on March 15.

The small rise in industrial output after a 0.9% increase in January was better than the zero percent reading most analyst expected for February when blizzards pummeled large areas of the country.

Manufacturing activity, however, dropped 0.2% in February after a 0.9% increase in the prior month, with mixed results for its major industries.

"Production in consumer durables industries was particularly affected. An important contributor to the weakness was that Toyota closed several factories in February which rippled adversely through the supply chain. Motor vehicle production fell 4.4% in February from the previous month," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.

"It is encouraging, though, that when motor vehicles and parts is removed, manufacturing production was actually up 0.1% in February," he added. "We believe that the fundamentals are strong for continued manufacturing recovery driven by pent up consumer demand, repair and replacement of business equipment, and exports. The minor setback in February is expected to be followed by strong makeup gains in March."

It was the eighth consecutive rise in output in the sector that is leading the economic recovery from the worst recession in decades.

Mining output surged to 2% from 1.1%, while utilities production was down 0.1 percentage point at 0.5%.

On a 12-month basis, output was up 1.7% from February 2009.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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