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US manufacturing output beats expectations in October

Key Points
  • U.S. manufacturing output increased for a fifth straight month in October, shrugging off a sharp decline in motor vehicle production and suggesting underlying strength in factory activity.
  • The Federal Reserve said on Friday manufacturing production rose 0.3 percent last month. Data for September was revised up to show output at factories increasing 0.3 percent instead of advancing 0.2 percent as previously reported.
Justin Mound installs an airbag on the assembly line at GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup truck plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, July 25, 2018. 
John Gress | Reuters

U.S. manufacturing output increased for a fifth straight month in October, shrugging off a sharp decline in motor vehicle production and suggesting underlying strength in factory activity.

The Federal Reserve said on Friday manufacturing production rose 0.3 percent last month. Data for September was revised up to show output at factories increasing 0.3 percent instead of advancing 0.2 percent as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output rising 0.2 percent in October.

Motor vehicle production slumped 2.8 percent after increasing 1.3 percent in September. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing gained a solid 0.5 percent last month, boosted by a strong increase in the output of business equipment. That followed a 0.2 percent rise in September.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, is being supported by a strong domestic economy. But growing capacity constraints amid labor shortages and more expensive raw material are slowing momentum. A strong dollar and cooling global growth are restraining exports.

October's rise in manufacturing production offset decreases in mining and utilities output, leading to a 0.1 percent gain in industrial production last month. Industrial output rose 0.2 percent in September.

Mining output fell 0.3 percent in October after slipping 0.1 percent in September. Oil and gas well drilling rebounded 1.6 percent after declining for three straight months.

Utilities output dropped 0.5 percent in October after dipping 0.1 percent in the prior month.

Capacity utilization for the manufacturing sector, a measure of how fully firms are using their resources, rose to 76.2 percent in October, the highest since July 2015, from 76.1 percent in September. Overall capacity use for the industrial sector fell to 78.4 percent from 78.5 in September.

It is 1.4 percentage points below its 1972-to-2017 average. 

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Key Points
  • U.S. industrial production increased for a fourth straight month in September.
  • The results were boosted by gains in manufacturing and mining output, but momentum slowed sharply in the third quarter.
  • The Federal Reserve said industrial production rose 0.3 percent last month after an unrevised 0.4 percent increase in August.
  • Industrial output grew at a 3.3 percent annualized rate in the third quarter after accelerating at a 5.3 percent pace in the second quarter.