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NAM: Manufacturing output rose 0.8 percent In February

Reuters (3/18) reports that US manufacturing output rose 0.8% in February, its biggest increase since August, according to data released Monday by the Fed. That’s a solid rebound from a 0.9% drop in January, and well above the 0.2% increase expected by economists. Reuters says that the report, along with a regional Fed report showing factory activity in New York expanding, will likely encourage the Fed to continue to taper its stimulus programs.

Bloomberg News (3/18, Woellert) reports that February’s increase shows that “manufacturing will help the U.S. economy emerge from a weather-related setback.” Bloomberg adds that the numbers “point to an expansion that will keep improving as temperatures warm, one reason why Fed policy makers this week will probably stick to their strategy of reducing the pace of monthly bond purchases.”

The Wall Street Journal (3/18, Sparshott, Subscription Publication) reports that the broader industrial production report, in which the manufacturing data was included, showed that the output of factories, mines, and utilities rose 0.6% last month. Capacity utilization, a measure of slack in the industrial sector, rose 0.3% to 78.8%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected overall output to rise 0.1% and that capacity utilization would come in at 78.5%. The Journal says that the strength of the manufacturing portion of the report shows that factories found ways to deal with the rough weather.

The AP (3/18, Rugaber), MarketWatch (3/18) and other media sources also cover the story.

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