U.S. industrial output inches up 0.1 pct in March

WASHINGTON, April 15 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. industrial production
rose 0.1 percent in March, far less than economists had
expected, held back by a drop in utilities output as heating
demand fell, Federal Reserve data showed on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.7
percent. February’s reading was revised up to 0.3 percent from
the 0.1 percent initially reported. The Fed had said last month
that February’s snowstorms slowed output.

For the first quarter, industrial production rose at a 7.8
percent annual rate, the largest quarterly jump since the
fourth quarter of 1999.

Capacity utilization, a closely watched measure of slack in
the economy, rose to 73.2 percent from 73.0, although that was
still 7.4 percentage points below the 1972-2009 average.

The Fed has listed resource usage among the factors it is
monitoring to determine when the time is right to lift interest
rates from near zero. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated on
Wednesday that the central bank thought rates would stay
abnormally low for an “extended period.”

The report showed manufacturing output rose 0.9 percent in
March, led by widespread gains among durable goods industries.
Utilities dropped 6.4 percent.

(Reporting by Emily Kaiser, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

U.S. industrial output inches up 0.1 pct in March