2013 Gives U.S. Manufacturers Best Quarter in Years

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Through 2013, focus has been on the American consumer and the effect consumer spending — or lack thereof — would have on the American economic recovery. But there is increasing evidence that the manufacturing sector is helping the economic recovery find its legs, as well.

Throughout the final three months of the year, industrial output increased at 6.8 percent annual rate, making the quarter the strongest since the April through June period of 2010. Even though November’s improvement in U.S.-based industrial production was not replicated as strongly in December, the month’s gain represented the fifth straight month of strengthening industrial production.

Output at at factories, mines, and utilities increased 0.3 percent following November’s upwardly revised 1 percent gain, the Federal Reserve said Friday. While manufacturing momentum was lost in the last month of the year — much as it was in the labor market — the 0.3 percent gain was spread across the multifaceted American manufacturing sector. It also matched the average estimate of economists polled by Bloomberg.

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