U.S. Factory Output Shows Marginal Growth for Second Consecutive Month, Leading to Hopes of Worst Being Behind

The output from U.S. factory production has shown signs of an uptick in February for a consecutive month, indicating that the manufacturing industry in the country may be stabilizing after a choppy last year. The performance of the manufacturing sector in the United States remained lackluster in the last year, stoking concerns about where the sector was headed.

According to the Federal Reserve, factories in the United States produced a higher volume of consumer appliances, machinery, and other goods. The Fed said that factory production had increased by 0.2% in February and had shown a rise of 0.5% in January. In the four months preceding January, U.S. factory production had shown a decline.

Market analysts see this as a sign of American manufacturers overcoming major challenges that had dogged the industry in the recent years. Challenges that were particularly prevalent in the American manufacturing sector were a strong U.S. dollar and some sluggishness in key overseas markets. These factors caused a negative impact on exports, affecting the country’s exports earnings.

Last year was also gloomy from the jobs perspective as factories reported job additions at the weakest rate since the 2009 recession came to an end. The overall industrial production—inclusive of mining and utilities—reported a 0.5% drop in February, which marks the fourth such downslide in the past five months. Utility production, too, plunged by nearly 4% as the demand for heating fell on account of temperatures being milder. According to the data available, mining output too dropped 1.4%. Mining output includes gas and oil drilling owing to the nosedive in oil prices.

The oil price plunge has caused mining output to fall progressively by a small margin for the last twelve months now. Mining production, especially, fell by about 1.3% every month over the last six months, according to the Federal Reserve. The greatest damage has been done to the gas and oil well drilling sector, which has buckled by over 60% since late 2014.

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