WASHINGTON – U.S. industrial output picked up in September, a sign a key sector of the economy is weathering the hurricane-related disruption that hit the prior month.
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Industrial production -- a measure of output at factories, mines and utilities -- increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in September from the prior month, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 0.3% gain for September. From a year earlier, industrial production rose 1.6% in September.
A decline in industrial production in August was also revised, suggesting storm-related disruptions were less severe than initially reported. Production slipped 0.7% that month instead of the first estimate of 0.9%.
Capacity utilization, reflecting how much industries are producing relative to their potential output, rose by 0.2 percentage point to 76.0% in September; economists had expected 76.3%.
Output at U.S. factories rose 0.1% in September and mining output increased 0.4%. Utility production rose 1.5%.
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Tuesday's report estimated Hurricanes Harvey and Irma held down the growth in total industrial production in September by 0.25 percentage point.
In September 2005, industrial production fell sharply after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but it recovered in subsequent months.
Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in late August, and Irma, which hit Florida in early September, have muddied economic readings in recent weeks.
While the storm impact dented August's industrial output, the Institute for Supply Management's closely watched index of manufacturing activity reached a 13-year high in September, as strong demand and order growth rode out the severe hurricane season.
Meanwhile the Labor Department said earlier this month that the U.S. shed 33,000 jobs in September, ending the longest stretch of job growth on record.
The two hurricanes that hit the U.S. in late summer are expected to continue to muddle economic indicators over the coming months. Economists expect overall output will pick up in subsequent quarters as rebuilding efforts take hold.
The Federal Reserve's latest report on industrial production and capacity utilization can be accessed at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/Current/
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 17, 2017 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT)