(Updates with stock-index futures in fifth paragraph.)
Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) — Industrial production rose in August by the most in six months, indicating U.S. manufacturing will contribute more to the expansion.
Output at factories, mines and utilities climbed 0.4 percent after no change the prior month, a report from the Federal Reserve showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 85 economists called for a 0.5 percent advance in August. Manufacturing, which makes up 75 percent of total production, advanced by the most this year.
The strongest vehicle sales in almost six years are propelling factory activity, encouraging companies such as Ford Motor Co. to boost plant capacity. A pickup in global markets and stronger consumer demand would help spark further progress in the sector that struggled earlier this year.
“A lot of it’s driven by auto sales,” Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, said before the report. “Manufacturing is roughly keeping pace with the economy. Now that Europe’s coming out of recession, that’s going to support manufacturing growth toward the end of this year and in 2014.”
Manufacturing in the New York region expanded less than forecast in September even as orders and sales grew at a faster pace, separate data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed. The bank’s general economic index eased to 6.3 from 8.2 last month. Readings greater than zero signal expansion in New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut. A gauge of the six-month outlook advanced to the highest level since April 2012.
Stock-index futures maintained gains after the figures. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in December rose 1 percent to 1,699 at 9:24 a.m. in New York.
Estimates for industrial production in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a drop of 0.1 percent to an increase of 0.7 percent.
Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, climbed 0.7 percent after falling a revised 0.4 percent. July factory output was previously reported as a 0.1 percent drop.
Today’s Fed report also showed that capacity utilization, which measures the amount of plants that are in use, increased to 77.8 percent from 77.6 percent the prior month.
Utility output decreased 1.5 percent, the fifth straight drop. Mining production, which includes oil drilling, increased 0.3 percent.
The output of motor vehicles and parts jumped 5.2 percent after a 4.5 percent decrease a month earlier, today’s report showed. Industrial production excluding autos and parts increased 0.2 percent for a second month.
The automobile industry is bolstering an improved outlook for production in the world’s largest economy. Cars and light trucks sold at a 16 million annualized rate last month, the fastest since November 2007, after 15.7 million in July, figures from Ward’s Automotive Group showed. Sales at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. exceeded analysts’ estimates.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, is expanding output of its Fusion sedan, and said its factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, could produce another model as demand grows. The additional shift of 1,400 new workers at the plant will boost Fusion capacity more than 30 percent.
“We expect the sales momentum to stay here in the U.S. and around the world,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told reporters on Aug. 29.
Details of the industrial production data released today also showed machinery production rose 0.8 percent, erasing the decline from a month earlier. Output of construction materials rose 0.3 percent. Output of computers and electronics increased 1.6 percent.
Consumer goods production advanced 0.3 percent, while output of business equipment rose 0.9 percent.
Texas Instruments Inc., the largest analog-chip maker, is among companies with a brighter outlook as global markets stabilize.
“Orders continue to be quite solid” this quarter, Chief Financial Officer Kevin March said at a Sept. 11 technology conference. “We continue to build backlog, which is a good sign. We continue to see strength in three of the four regions of the world,” with Asia, Japan, and the Americas expanding, he said.
The U.S. economy is projected to grow at a 2 percent annualized pace in the third quarter after expanding at a 2.5 percent rate in the prior three months, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg from Sept. 6 to Sept. 11. A previous survey conducted Aug. 2 to Aug. 6 showed an estimate of 2.3 percent for the third quarter.
–With assistance from Ainhoa Goyeneche in Washington. Editors: Vince Golle, Kevin Costelloe
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