Latest Economic Numbers Better Than Last Week’s
April 16, 2013
The latest numbers about the health of the U.S. economy are more upbeat than those that came out last week.
Industrial production rose in March by 0.4% from the month before due to utilities using more energy and a surge in auto production. This measure of the total output from the nation’s factories, mines and utilities from the Federal Reserve showed overall factory production fell 0.1% while utility output climbed 5.3% and auto/auto parts production increased 2.9%.
The overall increase follows an upwardly revised 0.9% increase in February.
A separate report from the U.S. Commerce Department shows new homes starts in the country have hit an annual level not seen in nearly four years. Activity increased in March 7% from February, to 1.04 million new units annually. It was driven higher by 31.1% increase multi-family homebuilding, the best rate in seven years, despite single family home starts falling 4.8%.
Analysts caution the multi-family homebuilding sector is extremely volatile and subject to big month-to-month swings.
The overall March level is almost 46% higher than the same time a year ago.
Finally, a third report from the U.S. Labor Department shows inflation is in check with consumer prices in March falling 0.2% from February. The drop in the Consumer Price Index follows a 0.7% gain in the month before, both due to swings in fuel prices.
The core CPI, which takes away volatile food and energy prices, showed a 0.1% increase in March, lower than a consensus poll of economists were forecasting.