Stronger-than-expected production increase a good sign for manufacturers

Big industry production rose by a strong 0.7% in February, an encouraging sign that the nation’s manufacturers may be getting a stronger grip on their own recovery, according to MSNBC.

The increase in output at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities came after a 0.8% jump in activity in January, the Federal Reserve reported Monday.

Last month’s industrial production performance was even better than the 0.4% increase that some economists were forecasting. Gains were widespread in February, with production rising for automotive products, home electronics, business equipment, machinery, food products and chemicals.

That’s especially goods news for manufacturing, which was hardest hit by the 2001 recession and has had an uneven journey to get back on firm footing.

The latest snapshot of industrial activity also boded well for healthy economic growth in the first three months of this year. Analysts believe the economy grew at an annual rate of more than 4.5% in the current January-to-March quarter, up from a 4.1% pace in the fourth quarter of 2003.

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