The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that its index of industrial production, a measure of output at factories, mines and utilities, rose last month as output continued to recover from the depths of the economic shutdown last spring.
Total production rose 0.9% in January, following an increase of 1.3% in December. The results were slightly above the consensus forecast, and now stand about 1% below pre-pandemic levels. The advance, the eighth in the past nine months, was driven by manufacturing and mining, with 1% and 2.3% increases, respectively.
Manufacturing, the biggest component of production, rose 1%, even though the continuing shortage in semiconductors constrained the production of autos and parts, which fell 0.7%.
The index for durable manufacturing rose 0.9% with widespread gains across its components, led by a 3.9% increase in primary metals. The index for nondurables edged up 1.2% in January after posting an increase of 0.4% in December, with most sectors recording growth.
Utility production fell 1.2%, driven by a 5.7% drop for natural gas utilities, and mining output jumped 2.3%.
Capacity utilization, which reflects how much industries are producing compared with their total potential, rose to 75.6% in January from 74.9% in December, ahead of the 74.8% reading that economists had expected.
The report is another sign that U.S. manufacturing activity continues to recover from the pandemic-induced depths of last year, but the figures for February and March may be distorted because of the disruption created by the deep freeze across the U.S.
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