American manufacturers churned out more appliances, clothing and construction supplies in September, indicating a mainstay of the early part of the economic expansion is regaining its footing.
Output at factories, mines and utilities rose 0.4 percent, beating the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, after a 1.4 percent drop in August that was the biggest since March 2009, according to data from the Federal Reserve issued today in Washington. Other reports showed there was little inflation outside of fuel costs and homebuilder confidence climbed to a six-year high.
The biggest back-to-back gain in retail sales in almost two years points to a pickup in consumer spending that may help offset a pullback in business investment. At the same time, a global slowdown that is hurting exports represents a hurdle for manufacturing.
“The economy is regaining momentum it appeared to have lost in the spring,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh who correctly forecast the production gain. “I don’t think manufacturing is down for the count.”