Fleet Management

Economic Watch: Industrial Production Flat, Inflation Tame, Housing Bright

August 15, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A new report shows industrial production in the United States was at the same level in July as it was the month before.

The Federal Reserve says the measure of the total output from the nation’s factories, mines and utilities was also revised downward from a 0.3% increase in June to a 0.2% hike.

The manufacturing component in July fell 0.1%, its first in three months, while utility output also fell but mining increased. One likely reason for the drop in manufacturing was a 1.7% decline in auto output, which typically falls in the summer as automakers retool.

Meantime, a Labor Department report shows inflation is of little worry when it comes to the health of the economy. The Consumer Price Index increased in July 0.2% following a 0.5% increase in June, the third straight gain.

Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, the July increase was 0.2%.

Over the past 12 months consumer prices have increased 2% overall, and slightly less when energy and food are removed.

The Labor Department also reports initial jobless claims last week dropped to its lowest level in six years. The news comes as little surprise to some analysts following figures released last week following a survey showing U.S. consumer confidence was at a five-year high.

Finally, a survey of the nation’s homebuilders shows they are feeling the best about business prospects than they have in many years.

The National Association of Homebuilders monthly sentiment survey shows confidence this month is at its highest level in nearly eight years and has recorded its fourth straight gain.

“Builder confidence continues to strengthen along with rising demand for a limited supply of new and existing homes in most local markets,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “However, this positive momentum is being slowed by the ongoing headwinds of tight credit and low supplies of finished lots and labor.”

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