WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - U.S. industrial production
rose more than expected in June on large gains in automotive
manufacturing and utility output, the Federal Reserve said on
Friday, a sign that the economy was regaining momentum at the
end of the second quarter.
Industrial output increased 0.6 percent last month, the
strongest gain since July 2015, after an upwardly revised 0.3
percent decline in May.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast industrial
production rising 0.2 percent last month.
The industrial sector measured by the U.S. central bank
comprises manufacturing, mining, and electric and gas utilities.
It has shown halting signs of improvement after a downturn
over the past 18 months caused by weak global demand, a strong
dollar and the fall in oil prices.
In June, however, manufacturing output rose 0.4 percent
after an upwardly revised 0.3 percent fall in May, while
production of consumer goods rose 1.1 percent.
Output of automotive products jumped 5.9 percent, while
machinery output was up 1.1 percent, the Fed said. Output of
computers, electronics and appliances increased 1.5 percent.
Business equipment production in June rose 0.7 percent after
a 0.3 percent fall in May. The Fed has become increasingly
worried about soft business investment.
The index for utilities rose 2.4 percent after a 0.9 percent
drop in May, while mining output rose 0.2 percent, a slight
softening from its May increase of 0.3 percent.
With overall output up, the percentage of industrial
capacity in use rose to 75.4 percent in June from an unrevised
74.9 percent in May.
The Fed sees capacity use as a leading indicator in deciding
how much further the economy can grow before sparking higher
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao)
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