WASHINGTON, Sept 17 — US industry posted its biggest output gain in a year in August, pushed by big rebounds in manufacturing and mining, the Federal Reserve reported today.
Manufacturing was a major driver of the recovery, with solid gains across many sectors—with the notable exception of autos—but output is still down compared to the same period of last year, according to the data.
American industry has been hurt by the trade war with China, which has created uncertainty that has put the brakes on business investment, and key private manufacturing surveys have reflected the slowdown.
The Fed’s industrial production index jumped 0.6 per cent compared to July, the largest increase since August 2018, the report said. That far exceeded the consensus forecast among economists.
“Factory output has increased 0.2 per cent per month over the past four months after having decreased 0.5 per cent during the first four months of the year,” the Fed said.
Mining, including oil production surged 1.4 per cent, erasing the decline in July when oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico was hit by Hurricane Barry.
Manufacturing jumped 0.5 per cent, after declining nearly the same amount in July, but is still 0.4 percent below production in the first eight months of 2018.
Output of durable goods posted healthy gains, especially metals and metal products, machinery and wood products, but motor vehicles and parts slumped one percent, according to the report.
However, the picture for the year-to-date is flipped, with auto output still solidly positive, and durable goods production in decline.
Erratic utilities output slowed sharply in August, increasing by 0.5 per cent compared to July, but is down 0.7 percent from a year earlier.
Industrial capacity in use jumped four tenths to 77.9 per cent. — AFP