WASHINGTON – U.S. industrial production rose a solid 0.3 percent in September, but the increase was limited due to the lingering damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that the storms, which struck the Gulf Coast and Florida, held down industrial output by 0.25 percentage points. Still, the manufacturing of automobiles, home electronics and appliances advanced in a potentially positive sign for consumer spending.
Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said industrial output should rebound markedly in October now that most of the oil refining capacity shuttered by the hurricanes has reopened.
“Overall, with global trade and economic growth booming and the dollar still down substantially from its peak early this year, the outlook for US manufacturing looks bright,” Ashworth said.
Factory output improved 0.1 percent, while the mining and utilities sectors rebounded from declines in August. Mining posted a 0.4 percent monthly gain, and production at utilities climbed 1.5 percent.
Over the past year, industrial production has risen just 1.6 percent – largely a reflection of the hurricanes over the past two months. Before the storms, the manufacturing sector had been helped by a stronger global economy leading to greater demand for U.S.-made goods.
Other reports indicate an increasingly healthy manufacturing sector.
Greater demand for industrial machinery, autos and aluminum and other metals caused factory orders to rise 1.2 percent in August, a slight rebound after a decline in July, the Commerce Department said this month. The same report includes a category for business investment that increased in both August and July.
Separately, a survey by the Institute for Supply Management said its September measure of factory activity climbed to a 13-year high. The trade association’s index reached 60.8, the best performance since May 2004. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.
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