WASHINGTON Industrial production recorded its largest increase in a year in November as mining and utilities output rebounded strongly, in the latest suggestion the economy is gaining steam as the year winds down.
Industrial output increased 1.1 percent last month as auto production swung into higher gear, the Federal Reserve said on Monday. It was the largest rise since November last year.
Production at the nation's mines, factories and power plants had edged up 0.1 percent in October.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected industrial production to rise 0.5 percent last month.
Manufacturing output, which accounts for three quarters of industrial production, rose 0.6 percent last month, increasing for a fourth straight month.
While a 3.4 percent rebound in auto production accounted for a large portion of the increase, there also were gains in other industries such as fabricated metals, textiles, furniture and electrical equipment and appliances.
A cold snap last month boosted utilities output, which increased 3.9 percent after falling 0.3 percent in October.
Mining production rose 1.7 percent as oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico which were temporarily shut in October because of Tropical Storm Karen reopened. Mining output had dropped 1.5 percent in October.
Last month, the amount of industrial capacity in use increased to 79 percent from 78.2 percent in the prior month.
Industrial capacity utilization - a measure of how fully firms are using their resources - was 1.2 percentage points below its long-run average.
Officials at the Fed tend to look at utilization measures as a signal of how much "slack" remains in the economy, and how much room growth has to run before it becomes inflationary.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chris Reese)
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