WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory output grew for the fifth straight month in November, adding to evidence that manufacturing remains an engine of economic growth.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that output by the nation's factories, utilities and mines increased 0.4% last month, after falling 0.2% in October.
Overall industrial production has increased 9.8% since its low point of the recession in July 2009, according to Steven Wood, chief economist with Insight Economics LLC. But output is down 6.9% from its peak in September 2007.
Factories produced 0.3% more goods for consumers and businesses, after boosting output by the same amount a month earlier. The strongest factory gains came from big-ticket items expected to last for several years.
Factory output has recovered by 10.6% since its low point in June 2009, Wood said. He said it remains 9.1% below its peak in April 2007.
Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said rising production of costly goods is an encouraging sign.
"In general, you think of durable goods as being a bit more discretionary for consumers. So this suggests there's a bit more confidence among producers, and consumers as well," he said.
Separately, the Labor Department reported that inflation remained tame with consumer prices barely increasing in November. Small increases in food and energy costs pushed the Consumer Price Index up 0.1%.