Industrial production increased 0.7% in February after having been unchanged in January, the Federal Reserved reported on Friday.
Manufacturing output rose 0.8% in February, and the index revised up for the previous two months.
“After having fallen 0.3% in January, the manufacturing sector, which represents about three-quarters of the industrial production index, rebounded and was up 0.8%, which is 2% higher on a year-over-year basis,” noted Yingying Xu, economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI).
“The growth was fairly broad-based,” she added, “with durable goods improving faster (1.2%) than nondurable goods (0.3%). The largest gain was in automobile products while the output of primary metals, textile and printing and support activities showed some decline.
“The robust manufacturing growth in February should be read with some caution,” Xu advised. “In large part it reflects improved consumer spending and the rebound in business equipment investment from January, which can both be volatile and easily impacted by the uncertainties of headwinds from the sequestration and the still highly uncertain path of government policy change.”
At 99.5% of its 2007 average, total industrial production in February was 2.5% above its level of a year earlier.
The capacity utilization rate for total industry increased to 79.6%, a rate that is 0.6 percentage point below its long-run (1972-2012) average.