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U.S. industrial output up sharply in July

The numbers: U.S. industrial production rose 0.6% in July, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.

The gain was above Wall Street expectations of a 0.3% increase, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.

Capacity utilization rebounded to 80.3% in July from 79.9% in the prior month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits to operating the nation’s factories, mines and utilities.  Economists had forecast a 80.2% rate.

Output of the U.S. industrial sector was at an all-time high, eclipsing the level hit in 2018.

Key details: Manufacturing rose 0.7% in July after falling in the prior two months. 

Motor vehicles and parts output rose 6.6% after a 1.3% fall on the prior month. Excluding autos, total industrial output increased 0.3%. Auto assemblies were the highest since August 2020.

Utilities output fell 0.8% in July. Mining output, which includes oil and natural gas, rose 0.7%, the third straight solid gain. Oil and gas drilling is at a 7-year high.

Big picture: Surveys of manufacturers show growing concern about the sector going forward, but the strong July reading was expected after the jobs report released early in the month showed a solid increase in hours worked in the sector.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks
DJIA,
+0.23%

SPX,
-0.25%

were set to open lower on Tuesday after key earnings data from big U.S. retailers.

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