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Latest Economic Numbers Better Than Last Week’s

April 16, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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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.

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