U.S. industrial output up sharply in March

The numbers: Industrial production jumped 0.9% in March, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

The gain was well above Wall Street expectations of a 0.4% gain, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.

In addition, February’s gain was revised up to 0.9% from the initial estimate of a 0.5% increase.

For the first quarter as a whole, output was up at an 8.1% annual pace.

Capacity utilization rose to 78.3% in March from 77.7% in the prior month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits to operating the nation’s factories, mines and utilities. Economists had forecast a 77.8% rate.

Key details: The output of motor vehicles and parts surged 7.8% in March.

The manufacturing sector as a whole rose 0.9% in March. For the first quarter, factory activity was up 5.4%.

Mining, which includes oil and natural gas production, rose 1.7% in March. Output of utilities rose 0.4%.

Big picture: Manufacturing has…

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