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Industrial Production Improves 1.2% in May

Industrial production advanced 1.2 percent in May after having risen 0.7 percent in April. Manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent last month, its third consecutive monthly gain of about 1 percent, and was 7.9 percent above its year-earlier level.

The output of mines edged down 0.2 percent, and the output of utilities increased 4.8 percent. The jump in utilities reflected unseasonably warm temperatures that boosted air conditioning usage in May after uncharacteristically temperate weather in April reduced heating demand. At 103.5 percent of its 2002 average, total industrial output in May was 7.6 percent above its year-earlier level.

Capacity utilization for total industry rose 1.0 percentage point to 74.7 percent, a rate 6.2 percentage points above the rate from a year earlier but 5.9 percentage points below its average from 1972 to 2009.

"Today's industrial production report confirms earlier indicators from the purchasing managers index and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report on manufacturing employment; all three indicators point to strong growth in physical output last month," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, chief economist of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "While an inventory swing from destocking to restocking is certainly a key driver in the industrial rebound, the breadth of the rebound is impressive and creates self-reinforcing demand for materials and equipment across the whole manufacturing sector."

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