By Lorraine Woellert
WASHINGTON - Industrial production in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in April, propelled by gains in auto manufacturing and utility use.
Output at factories, mines and utilities increased 1.1 percent last month, the most since December 2010, after a 0.6 percent decline in March that was revised from no change, the Federal Reserve reported today in Washington.
Economists forecast a 0.6 percent gain, according to the Bloomberg News survey median. Manufacturing, which makes up about 75 percent of total production, rose 0.6 percent. Utility output climbed the most in two years.
Motor vehicles sales in the first quarter that were the strongest in four years have buoyed manufacturing, helping make up for a slowdown in corporate equipment purchases. While U.S. exports accelerated during the first three months of 2012, weaker economies in Europe and parts of Asia remain a hurdle for American factories.
“Things are looking brighter than they were a few months ago,” said Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities Inc. in New York. “Auto production is doing well because consumers are buying vehicles, and consumers are buying vehicles because they feel more positive about their job prospects.”
Estimates of the 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from gains of 0.2 percent to 1 percent. March industrial production was previously reported as unchanged.