Overall industrial production rose 1.0 percent last month, also the biggest gain since February 2014, with pickups in coal mining and in drilling and support activities in the oil and gas industry.
WASHINGTON-U.S. industrial output rose sharply in April, the latest evidence that economic growth is picking up following a lackluster start to the year.
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Factory production has risen three of four months this year.
US factory activity was stagnant through much of 2016 but picked up early this year amid steady job creation, a stable dollar, stronger demand from overseas and soaring optimism following the election of President Donald Trump. ISM manufacturing readings for each month this year have been higher than any month in 2015 or 2016.
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The report also said capacity utilization in the industrial sector climbed to 76.7 percent in April from 76.1 percent in March.
In comparison to a year ago, output in mining was especially strong, clocking in with an advance of 7.3%, although it remained 11.2% below its December 2014 peak, the Federal Reserve said. And utility output rose 0.7% after surging 8.2% in March.
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The bigger than expected increase in production was partly due to a rebound in manufacturing output, which surged up by 1.0 percent in April after falling by 0.4 percent in March. Capacity use remains below the long-run average of 79.9%, a sign the economy is operating below its potential.
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