U.S. factory production rose for a fourth straight month in December, capping the strongest quarter since 2010 and underscoring a resurgence in manufacturing that’s primed for further advances, Federal Reserve data showed Wednesday.
The smaller-than-expected December gain in manufacturing output reflected a 0.1 percent drop in production of nondurable goods, including petroleum and chemicals. Output of durable goods rose a solid 0.3 percent.
Factory output increased at a 7 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, the strongest since the second quarter of 2010. Combined with national and regional surveys of purchasing managers, the figures indicate manufacturing was robust at the end of the year.
Stronger consumer spending, increased business investment and more shipments of merchandise to overseas customers are providing plenty of fuel for the nation’s producers. What’s more, the lowest business inventory-to-sales ratio in three years could translate into increased production in coming months.
Factory output climbed 1.3 percent in 2017, the strongest annual reading in five years.