U.S. Industrial Production Rose 0.7% in April

05/16/18 09:30 AM EDT

By Josh Mitchell and Ben Leubsdorf

WASHINGTON--U.S. industries pumped out more goods in April to meet growing demand from consumers and businesses, another sign the economy is gaining momentum.

Industrial output--reflecting everything produced by factories, mines and utilities--rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in April from a month earlier, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. That marked the third straight month of higher production. Production increased broadly across all sectors and has risen 3.5% over the past year.

The economy's industrial segment is firming but not to the extent that inflation seems about to surge, according to one closely watched measure of industrial slack. Capacity utilization--reflecting how much industries are producing, relative to their potential output--rose 0.4 percentage point last month to 78.0%, the highest level in three years.

Capacity use is still nearly 2 percentage points below the economy's historical average dating back to the early 1970s.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected production to rise 0.6% and capacity utilization to hit 78.4% last month.

Wednesday's report showed factories boosted production 0.5% in April from a month earlier, as American households step up spending and companies boost investment. Manufacturers increased output of consumer goods, business equipment, and defense and space equipment. Factory output has increased 1.8% over the past year.

Mines increased output 1.1% in April, largely reflecting renewed drilling for oil and natural gas. Mining output surged 10.6% from a year earlier.

Utility production rose 1.9% over the month and 6% over the year. Unusually cold weather in April boosted demand for heating.

Write to Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell@wsj.com and Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com.

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 16, 2018 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT)

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