Rise in U.S. Industrial Products Dwarfs Expectations

Industrial production south of the border increased more than expected in December as unseasonably cold weather toward the end of the month boosted demand for heating, although manufacturing output slowed further.

The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday industrial output surged 0.9% last month, also bolstered by robust gains in mining production after a downwardly-revised 0.1% decline in November.

Economists had forecast industrial production advancing 0.4% last month after a previously reported 0.2% increase in November. Industrial production rose at an annual rate of 8.2% in the fourth quarter, the biggest gain since the second quarter of 2010.

For all of 2017, industrial output rose 1.8%, the first and largest increase since 2014.

The industrial sector is being supported by a strengthening global economy and a weakening American dollar, which is helping to make U.S. exports more competitive relative to those of the nation's main trading partners. A survey early this month showed an acceleration in factory activity in December, with a measure of new orders recording its best reading since January 2004.

Mining production increased 1.6% amid a rebound in oil and gas well drilling. Utilities production accelerated 5.6% last month after declining 3.1% in November.