WASHINGTON Oct 17 U.S. industrial production
barely rose in September as a rebound in manufacturing output
was offset by a decline in utilities production, suggesting a
moderate acceleration in economic growth in the third quarter.
The Federal Reserve said on Monday industrial output edged
up 0.1 percent last month after a downwardly revised 0.5 percent
decline in August.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast industrial
production gaining 0.1 percent last month after a previously
reported 0.4 percent fall in August. Industrial production rose
at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the third quarter, the first
quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2015.
The industrial sector continues to be hobbled by the
lingering effects of the dollar's surge and oil price plunge
between June 2014 and December 2015. The sector has also been
hurt by business efforts to reduce an inventory overhang, which
has resulted in fewer orders being placed with factories.
But with the dollar's rally fading and oil prices
stabilizing, the worst of the industrial downturn is probably
over. A survey early this month showed an acceleration in
factory activity in September, while new orders for manufactured
capital goods have increased since June.
Manufacturing output rose 0.2 percent in September after
falling 0.5 percent in the prior month. Motor vehicle and parts
production edged up 0.1 percent. Manufacturing production rose
at a 0.9 percent rate in the third quarter.
Mining production increased 0.4 percent as gains in oil and
gas well drilling offset a drop in crude oil extraction. That
left mining output rising at a 3.7 percent rate in the third
quarter following six consecutive quarterly declines.
Utilities production dropped 1.0 percent last month after
slipping 0.3 percent in August.
With output barely rising last month, industrial capacity
use edged up 0.1 percentage point to 75.4 percent. Officials at
the Fed tend to look at capacity use as a signal of how much
"slack" remains in the economy and how much room there is for
growth to accelerate before it becomes inflationary.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)