Industrial production grew 0.7% in April, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.
United States industrial production fell short of forecasts last month despite a sharp jump in the output of business equipment. That marked the third straight month of higher production. The production of electrical equipment and appliances rose 1.5 percent last month, while the output of steel and other metals fell 0.5 percent.
The economy's industrial segment is firming but not to the extent that inflation seems about to surge, according to one closely watched measure of industrial slack.
Capacity utilization rose to 78.0% in April from March's revised 77.6%.
Capacity use is still almost 2 percentage points below the economy's historical average dating back to the early 1970s.
Total industrial production jumped 0.7 per cent compared to March, slightly better than economists expected, and was 3.5 per cent faster than April 2017. Manufacturers increased output of consumer goods, business equipment, and defense and space equipment. Production of durable goods decreased 0.5%, while nondurable goods production rose 1.5%.
Mining output rose 1.1 per cent, and was 10.6 per cent higher than the same month of 2017, fuelled by gains in oil and gas extraction, which offset the decline in coal mining. Unusually cold weather in April boosted demand for heating.