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Economic Report: U.S. industrial output up sharply in March

The numbers: Industrial production jumped 0.9% in March, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

The gain was well above Wall Street expectations of a 0.4% gain, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.

In addition, February’s gain was revised up to 0.9% from the initial estimate of a 0.5% increase.

For the first quarter as a whole, output was up at an 8.1% annual pace.

Capacity utilization rose to 78.3% in March from 77.7% in the prior month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits to operating the nation’s factories, mines and utilities. Economists had forecast a 77.8% rate.

Key details: The output of motor vehicles and parts surged 7.8% in March.

The manufacturing sector as a whole rose 0.9% in March. For the first quarter, factory activity was up 5.4%.

Mining, which includes oil and natural gas production, rose 1.7% in March. Output of utilities rose 0.4%.

Big picture: Manufacturing has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy despite supply-chain woes. Economists are watching closely to see whether China’s COVID-related closures will worsen existing supply problems. The gain in mining in March suggests U.S. oil companies and shale producers are ramping up production given the high oil price.

Market reaction: U.S. stock

and bond markets

were closed for the Good Friday holiday.

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