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Industrial production shows gains in September

October 17, 2011 | 11:13 am

Volvo factory

The country's machines continued to whir in September, as industrial production increased 0.2% after remaining unchanged in August, boosted by strong manufacturing figures. Industrial production rose 5.1% in the third quarter.

Manufacturing, once a sector all but left for dead in the U.S. economy, is playing a big role in the country's recovery. Auto companies are making cars again, spurring demand for suppliers and parts manufacturers. Production of motor vehicles and parts rose 0.7% in September.

In the third quarter, the output of business equipment rose 12.6% and the output of transit equipment — including trucks and civilian aircraft — jumped 31.8% in September, according to the report from the Federal Reserve.

As the dollar loses value, more companies are expanding U.S. manufacturing operations at the expense of their overseas ones, said Mitch Free, chief executive of MFG.com, a website that connects businesses and factories. They often produce smaller batches of goods in the U.S. because they don't have to ship them in bulk, he said, which may be leading to the relatively slow growth.

"I think it's still touch-and-go," he said.

Production of food, beverage and tobacco products grew in the third quarter after declining the previous quarter.

"This is a 'not-bad' report," said Patrick Newport, of IHS Global Insight, in a note. "It shows the manufacturing sector moving forward during September, though at an uninspiring rate during a very rocky quarter."

RELATED:

Carmakers' rebound is driving jobs in the U.S.

Housing, industrial production data give mixed signals

— Alana Semuels

Photo: Workers assemble truck components at a Volvo plant in Virginia. Credit: Steve Helber / Associated Press

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