US factory output jumped 1.2 percent in February

Published 8:12 am Monday, March 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. factory output jumped last month, led by big gains in the production of cars, computers and furniture.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that manufacturing output rebounded 1.2 percent in February, the most since October and following three months of weak or negative readings. Factory production has increased a healthy 2.5 percent in the past year.

Manufacturers are benefiting from robust spending by consumers and businesses and solid growth overseas. The dollar has declined in value over the past year, which also makes U.S. goods cheaper overseas. Many economists expect last year’s tax cuts and rising optimism among business owners to fuel greater investment in machinery and information technology equipment.

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“The big picture in this report is that the manufacturing upswing is back on track,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Economics.

Still, consumer demand waned a bit at the start of this year, which could weigh on factory output in the months ahead.