U.S. manufacturing output rose more than forecast in December

Reade Pickert

Production at U.S. manufacturers increased in December by more than projected, marking an eighth straight month of gains as steady yet more moderate demand growth and lean inventories continue to power the sector’s recovery.

Output at factories rose 0.9% from the prior month after a 0.8% gain in November, Federal Reserve data showed Friday. Total industrial production, which also includes mines and utilities, jumped 1.6% in December, the most in five months, after an upwardly revised 0.5% gain.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 0.5% gains in both manufacturing output and industrial production.

FILE - In this May 13, 2020, file photo, Ford Motor Co., line workers put together ventilators that the automaker is assembling at the Ford Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti Township.

An annualized 11.2% increase in fourth-quarter manufacturing production shows factory activity continues to steadily rebound. A slowly improving economy, still-lean inventories and prospects for stronger growth this year should continue to support the industry this year after the pandemic caused factory output to decline 6.9% for all of 2020.

Still, hurdles remain, including labor constraints at factories and surging Covid-19 infections that could limit the pace of recovery. A Commerce Department report showed disappointing retail sales for December.