16 May 2007, 17:58  US April industrial output up 0.7 pct, capacity utilization 81.6 pct

Cool weather that boosted demand for energy to heat homes and businesses sent US industrial production up 0.7 pct in April, the Federal Reserve reported today. That was more than three times higher than the analysts' expectation of a 0.2 pct increase. Utility production rose 3.5 pct last month continuing a pattern of weather-related flip-flops. The 3.5 pct increase followed a revised 7.5 pct drop in March and a revised 7.3 pct increase in February. The utility volatility fed through to the headline industrial production numbers, with revised figures showing a 0.3 pct drop in March and a 0.8 pct increase in February. Manufacturing production was up 0.5 pct in April after a revised 0.6 pct in March. Those two straight monthly increases follwed flat or declining figures earlier in the year. April manufacturing was strong across the board as home electronics posted a 4.8 pct increase and autos rose 3.7 pct. Mining output showed the only decline last month, down 0.3 pct after a 0.1 pct March increase. April's capacity utilization at 81.6 pct represented no major shift from where it's been so far in 2007.

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