The U.S. Commerce Department released some positive news this morning in the form of data showing that the nation's industrial base improved last month.
Specifically, the government noted that industrial production had jumped by 0.6% in February. That was the fastest monthly growth rate since last August. Moreover, it was decidedly better than the scant 0.1% gain that had been the latest consensus forecast for this economic category.
In all, production recovered from the very weak start, which had been driven down by the bitter cold temperatures and heavy snows that had blanketed much of the nation for the first few weeks of the year. The gain last month came as manufacturing output (the largest of the three sectors gauged by this survey) increased by 0.8% for the month. A second category, mining output, also pushed higher, rising by 0.3%. The third component, utilities output, eased by 0.2%, after surging by nearly 4% in January.
As to that January showing, the initial 0.3% decline for the month, was revised to show a slightly lesser contraction of 0.2%. Also, capacity utilization at the nation's factories, the other half of this industrial report, rose from 78.5% in January to 78.8% last month. A flat-to-nominally higher reading had been the forecast.
The industrial progress, as noted, followed a 0.2% dip to start the year, and a 0.3% gain in December. Looked at as a whole, this was a very encouraging report, and underscores that the economy, even while being held back by the inclement weather, seems ready to continue pushing forward this year at an increasing rate.
In fact, after growing by a possible 1.0%-2.0% this quarter, we would expect growth to rise above 2.5% in the June period and then push up towards 3% during the concluding half of this year.At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.