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Economic Watch: Industrial Production Surges, Homebuilder Optimism Slips

December 15, 2014

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U.S. industrial production surged in November by 1.3% from the month before, the largest gain since May 2010, according to new U.S. Federal Reserve figures.

This measure of the total activity at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities was also revised upward for October showing a 0.1% increase from the month before after it was originally reported as a 0.1% decline.

In November, manufacturing output increased 1.1%, with widespread gains among industries. The rise in factory output was well above its average monthly pace of 0.3% over the previous five months and was its largest gain since February. Helping the November gain was a gain in consumer goods production that was the best in 16 years.

The output of utilities jumped 5.1% in November, as colder weather than usual for the month boosted demand for heating. The index for mining decreased 0.1%

At 106.7% of its 2007 average, total industrial production in November was 5.2% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.8 of a percentage point in November to 80.1%, a rate equal to its long-run average from 1972 to 2013.

Meantime, a separate report shows homebuilder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes has fallen slightly this month.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell one point to 57, following a four-point uptick last month

“After a sluggish start to 2014, the HMI has stabilized in the mid-to-high 50s index level trend for the past six months, which is consistent with our assessment that we are in a slow march back to normal,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As we head into 2015, the housing market should continue to recover at a steady, gradual pace.”

Two of the three HMI components posted slight losses in December. The index gauging current sales conditions fell one point to 61, while the index measuring expectations for future sales dropped a single point to 65 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers held steady at 45.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West rose by four points to 62 and the Northeast edged up one point to 45, while the Midwest registered a three-point loss to 54 and the South dropped two points to 60.

 

 

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