US sees fastest factory output hike since 2011

Ben Southwood
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US MANUFACTURERS boosted output at the fastest rate since March 2011, according to data out yesterday.

Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for output jumped from 56.8 in January to 58.1 this month, a 23-month high. Since it is further above 50, it suggests a yet faster pace of activity growth in the factory sector.

But the overall PMI, which takes order books, employment, backlogs and inventories into account, as well as output, inched down from 55.8 to 55.2, signalling slower but still substantial expansion in industry overall.

And consumer prices stayed completely flat between December and January, according to separate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This allowed the annual inflation rate to fall from 1.7 per cent in December to 1.6 per cent last months, the BLS said.

But labour market numbers did not give such a positive impression of the US economy. New unemployment insurance claims jumped 20,000 to 362,000 in the week ending 16 February, the Department of Labor revealed, while total insured unemployment edged up 11,000 to reach 3,148,000 in the previous week.