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Snapshot
Other reports released Wednesday:
Producer prices: Rising gasoline costs pushed up the prices U.S. companies receive for their goods and services in June, but overall inflation remains tame.
The Labor Department said the producer price index, which measures the cost of goods and services before they reach the consumer, rose 0.4 percent last month. The increase follows a 0.2 percent decrease in May.
Gas costs rose 6.4 percent in June. In the past 12 months, producer prices have risen 1.9 percent, near the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2 percent.
Beige Book: The economy continued to expand in all regions of the country in June and early July, helped by strength in consumer spending, a Federal Reserve survey indicates.
All 12 of the Fed’s regions reported growth. New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco characterized growth as moderate, while the other regions reported modest growth.
Boston and Richmond reported that growth came in at a slightly slower pace than in the previous reporting period.
Associated Press
A worker assembles blender blades at a factory in Strongsville, Ohio. U.S. factory output rose 0.1 percent last month.

Factory output up for 5th month

Latest sign of slow but steady economic growth

– U.S. factory output increased for the fifth consecutive month in June as manufacturers cranked out more aircraft, chemicals and furniture. The modest gain underscored manufacturing’s role in helping return the economy to growth after a grim first quarter.

Factory production rose 0.1 percent last month, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, down from a gain of 0.4 percent in the previous month. May’s data was revised slightly lower, but April’s reading was revised much higher.

Despite June’s small increase, manufacturing output rose in the second quarter at the fastest pace in more than two years, providing a critical boost to the economy after it contracted sharply in the first three months of the year.

Factory output climbed 6.7 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter, the most in more than two years and up from just 1.4 percent in the first quarter.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, edged up 0.2 percent in June, down from a 0.5 percent gain in May.

Mining output, which includes oil and gas drilling, surged 0.8 percent. Utility production fell 0.3 percent, mostly reflecting weather patterns. Industrial production rose at an annual rate of 5.5 percent in the second quarter, the best showing in nearly four years.

“The industrial economy is in reasonable shape, but the recovery is steady rather than spectacular,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Most economists are optimistic that factory output will keep rising. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said this week that its regional manufacturing index reached a four-year high in July.

Americans are buying more cars, and businesses are spending more on metals and computers. Auto sales reached an eight-year high in June. Auto production slipped last month, the Fed said, but that followed several months of strong gains.

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