WASHINGTON Jan 17 U.S. factory output rose a
stronger-than-expected 0.4 percent in December, closing out a
strong quarter in which overall industrial production advanced
at its fastest clip in 3-1/2 years.
The data from the Federal Reserve on Friday was the latest
to underscore a strengthening in the economy.
Helped by the rise in manufacturing activity, overall output
at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.3 percent.
Mining production rose 0.8 percent, but utilities output dropped
1.4 percent after a big November gain.
For the fourth quarter as a whole, industrial production
advanced at a 6.8 percent pace, the largest quarterly increase
since the second quarter of 2010.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected factory output to
rise 0.3 percent, while the gain in overall industrial
production matched forecasts.
To increase output, U.S. industry employed 79.2 percent of
its capacity - the most since June 2008 and a touch above
forecasts. Still, capacity use remained 1 percentage point below
its long-run average, the Fed said.
(Reporting by Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Andrea Ricci)