Industrial output up 0.6% in April

rebound speeds up

Inventory replenishment helps 3rd consecutive gain

May 15, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- U.S. industrial production rose in April at the fastest rate since August as a rebound in manufacturing gained speed, Federal Reserve Board figures yesterday showed.

Output at factories, mines and utilities rose 0.6 percent last month after rising 0.5 percent in March. Previously, the Fed estimated that March industrial production rose 0.1 percent.

"Some of the acceleration came in the high-technology industries, but many other industries showed improvement as well," the Fed said.

Manufacturing posted a third consecutive monthly gain, even as production of commercial aircraft slowed. "Much of the strength in production is a result of the rebuilding of lean inventories," said Gerald Cohen, an economist at Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York.

The plant-use rate, which measures industrial capacity in use, rose to 80.6 percent in April from 80.4 percent during March. That is the highest reading since December's 80.7 percent. April's production increase was the largest since a 1.4 percent rise in August as General Motors Corp. cranked up production after a strike.

The Fed said manufacturing output gained 0.6 percent last month after rising a revised 0.4 percent in March. Mining output rose 0.1 percent last month and utilities' output was up 0.7 percent.

Auto and truck production increased 2.9 percent. Household appliance output rose 0.1 percent. Construction supply production increased 0.4 percent. Production of business equipment, including computers, rose 0.3 percent.

Factory orders and shipments have shown signs of strength since the start of the year, helped by the strong domestic economy and a recovery overseas.

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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