Factory production increases in February

Factory production increased in February.

Factory production in the U.S. increased in February, showing that the harsh winter had little effect on the industry. Factory output increased by 0.8 percent in February, the largest gain for the industry in six months, according to the Federal Reserve.

The jump in February production is also an improvement from January's decline of 0.9 percent. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Bank, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times the winter played a part in the industry not posting better numbers.

"The rebound in production in February is further proof … that the softness in the data in late 2013 and early 2014 was due primarily to the weather," Hoffman said. 

Overall production for factories also increased by 0.6 percent, a jump from January's 0.2 percent decline. Output from gas and electric companies fell by 0.2 percent in February, but the Fed said these industries should excel because there was such a high demand for heat during the winter.

One of the most important factors in assessing factory and manufacturing activity is the industrial capacity utilization rate. This rate looks at how close facilities are to working at full production. This rate increased by 0.3 percent in February to reach 78.8 percent.

Michael Polk, president and CEO at Newell Rubbermaid, told Bloomberg Businessweek the industry should see more positive growth over the next few months.

"I think we'll continue to see modest improvement in the economy," Polk said. "For the high end of consumers there's good recovery, lower-end consumers are having a harder time of things."

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