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.