Overall industrial production increased 0.7% for March, according to a Federal Reserve report (link opens as PDF) released today.
While March's top-line number exceeded expectations in and of itself, the growth was doubly impressive considering February's sharp upwardly revised growth, from 0.6% to 1.2%. Analysts had expected significantly smaller 0.4% growth for March. Compared to March 2013, production is up 3.8%.
Every major market group clocked production growth for March, with the materials group's 0.9% making the largest move. Final products advanced 0.7%, while nonindustrial supplies increased 0.5%.
Breaking production down by industries, mining and utilities both notched strong growth, up 1.5% and 1%, respectively. Manufacturing made a relatively smaller 0.5% production gain, but its boost was exactly in line with analyst expectations.
Higher factory output is a sign of greater demand by businesses and consumers. The gains over the past two months point to a rebound after a winter slowdown in January and December stalled growth across the economy.
Overall capacity utilization added on 0.4 percentage points from February's report to hit 79.2%. Analysts had expected a more subdued rate of 78.7%, but a sharp 0.9-point rise for mining to 89.1% helped push overall rates higher.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. link
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.