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U.S. Durable Goods Production Up in November
Dec 17, 2003
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U.S. industrial output surged in November, registering its biggest 1-month gain in 4 years, according to the Federal Reserve.

Industrial production rose 0.9 percent last month, the biggest rise since October 1999, the Fed said. This followed a 0.4-percent rise in production during October, revised up from the Fed's initial estimate of a 0.2-percent increase.

Capacity use rose in November to 75.7 percent, the highest level since September 2002, from a revised 75.1 percent in the month before. September capacity use was revised up slightly from the Fed's initial estimate of 75 percent.

The November report showed stronger production growth and stronger capacity use than Wall Street expected. A Dow Jones Newswires-CNBC poll of 19 economists called for production to rise 0.5 percent for the month and for November capacity use to come in at 75.3 percent.

The latest industrial production report adds to recent evidence that the U.S. manufacturing sector is on the rebound. Manufacturing was particularly hard hit by the 2001 recession and subsequent economic slowdown, but it recently has stabilized and shown signs of growth.

The New York Federal Reserve said that manufacturing activity in its district improved substantially in December, marking the eighth straight month of positive readings. The Fed's Empire State Manufacturing Survey came in at 37.37 in December, just below the record high set in November. Any number above zero means more manufacturers say business conditions are improving than say they are worsening.

Also, the Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity in November grew at its fastest pace since December 1983. The ISM index of manufacturing activity rose to 62.8 for the month, up from 57 in October, according to a Dec. 1 report from the Institute.

Within the November industrial production report, manufacturing output rose 0.9 percent. This followed a 0.3percent rise in October, revised up from a previously estimated 0.1-percent increase. Manufacturing capacity use rose to 74.3 percent last month from October's 73.7percent.

Excluding autos, manufacturing production rose 1 percent last month. This followed a 0.7-percent rise in the previous month, the Fed said.

For overall consumer durable goods, production rose 0.5 percent in November after a 0.8-percent fall in October. Production of consumer non-durable goods rose 0.4 percent in November after a 0.3-percent drop in October.

Business equipment advanced 1.7 percent in November, rebounding from a 0.2-percent slide in October. Also, the technology industry posted another month of strong gains. Production in that sector rose 4.1 percent last month after a previous 4-percent increase.

Semiconductor production surged 6.2 percent in November after a 5.4-percent gain in October, and output of computers and office equipment rose 2.6 percent last month after a 2.4-percent rise the month before. Also, production of communications equipment rose for the second straight month after a long string of declines, posting a 1 percent November rise on the heels of a 2.6 percent gain the month before.

Excluding selected high-technology industries, industrial production rose 0.7 percent in November after a 0.2-percent rise in October. (Dow Jones)

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