US factory output rebounded strongly in February from January’s weather-related setback AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2013 file photo, a Georgia Power crewman goes through the process of restoring power to a neighborhood as he works on a line, in Riverdale, Ga. The Federal Reserve on Monday, March 17, 2014 will isssue its February report on U.S. industrial output, which includes factories, mines and utilities. (AP Photo/John Amis, File) by Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press Posted Mar 17, 2014 7:41 am MDT WASHINGTON – U.S. factory output rebounded strongly in February after harsh winter storms caused a steep drop-off in production in January. Manufacturers produced more autos, home electronics and chemicals.The Federal Reserve said Monday that factory production surged 0.8 per cent, nearly reversing a 0.9 per cent plunge in January that was due mainly to weather. February’s gain was the largest in six months.The figures suggest that factories are poised to boost output and drive more economic growth as the weather improves.“Assuming that the weather returns to seasonal norms, output will rise rapidly in the coming months,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 0.6 per cent in February, the biggest increase since September. Industrial production had fallen 0.2 per cent in January.Utility output dipped 0.2 per cent despite the cold weather. The drop came after a sharp 3.8 per cent jump in January. Mining production rose 0.3 per cent.Auto production rose 4.6 per cent after falling 5.1 per cent in January. Home electronic output increased 0.7 per cent. And food production rose about 1 per cent.Factories ran at 76.4 per cent of capacity, up one-half of a percentage point over the month and 2.3 percentage points below the long-run average.Manufacturing and the broader economy may be emerging from a winter slump. A rebound in factory output could drive faster growth in the coming months.A private survey this month found that manufacturers received more orders in February even as production fell. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its overall index of manufacturing activity rose to 53.2 in February from 51.3 in January.And Americans spent a bit more at retail stores in February after pulling back in December and January. That may mean that consumer demand is picking up, which could lead to more factory output.But some other data have been negative. A government report showed that factory orders dipped in January. Auto sales have slowed after a big gain in 2013. Sales were flat in February after a drop in January.Businesses kept up their restocking of store shelves and warehouses in January even as sales fell. That means retailers and other firms could be stuck with some unwanted goods. Rising inventories could weigh on factory production in coming months if companies cut back on orders.The economy will grow at about a 2 per cent annual rate in the first three months of this year, economists forecast, down from more than 3 per cent in the final six months of last year. But most expect it will pick up later this year to a 3 per cent annual pace.
Civilian deaths dropped 12 per cent for the first time in six years, according to figures in the 2012 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, prepared by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in coordination with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “The decrease in civilian casualties UNAMA documented in 2012 is very much welcome. Yet, the human cost of the conflict remains unacceptable,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš. Addressing journalists in Kabul, Mr. Kubiš spoke out against threats and intimidation of people perceived to be aligned with the Government of President Hamid Karzai. “There is a 700 per cent increase, 700 per cent, in the killing and harming of civilians, and I’m stressing civilians who are perceived to be working in favour of the Government – different officials, tribal leaders, religious leaders, those that are speaking in favour of peace.”Particularly disturbing were targeted killings of women by anti-Government elements (AGEs), as demonstrated by the killings of the head and deputy head of the Laghman Department of Women’s Affairs in July and December 2012.Civilian casualties from targeted killings by AGEs increased by 108 per cent compared with 2011. Within that category, the killing of civilian Government employees rose 700 per cent, according to the report. Another concerning trend are the attacks on women and children, especially as they were working or going to school. Of the 7,559 civilian casualties confirmed in 2012 by UNAMA, 301 women and girls were killed and 563 were injured – an overall increase of 20 per cent from the previous year.“It is the tragic reality that most Afghan women and girls were killed or injured while engaging in their everyday activities,” said the Director of Human Rights for UNAMA, Georgette Gagnon, who also spoke at the press conference. According to the report, AGEs, which include the Taliban, were responsible for 6,131 casualties or 81 per cent of the killings and injuries. The figure is an increase of nine per cent over 2011, mostly due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).Of particular concern to the UN is illegal pressure-plate IEDs, which can be detonated by any person, including children, stepping on them or any vehicle such as civilian minibuses driving over them. According to Ms. Gagnon, these types of IEDs are planted in public places used by civilians such as bazaars, markets and roads “with devastating consequences for civilians” and increase threats to civilians carrying out daily activities in their communities. Also disruptive to communities is the threat of suicide bombers, who Mr. Kubiš described as children who had been “brainwashed” by the AGEs. “We need to deliver a change of the situation,” Mr. Kubiš said. Speaking directly to the Taliban, who he said comprises the strongest and most organized group fighting the Government, he said: “Talk to us. Let’s work. Redefine your definition of civilians and then follow the prescriptions of the international humanitarian law.”Turning to the pro-Government forces, who account for eight per cent of civilian casualties, Mr. Kubiš noted that the UN works in a “very tough dialogue” with the Government and with the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led security force in Afghanistan, to minimize harm to civilians during their operations. Civilian casualties from aerial operations dropped by 42 per cent, but remained the cause of most civilian deaths and injuries caused by pro-Government forces, in particular international military forces. Mr. Kubiš also spoke about the upcoming Afghan elections, saying that a group from the UN Electoral Assistance Division had been working with authorities, the Independent Election Commission, political parties and leaders, civil society representatives and the international community to prepare recommendations for the 2014 presidential polls. Once completed, those will be made public during a press conference.In March, the Security Council is due to discuss the work and mandate of UNAMA and the UN agencies, funds and programmes operating in Afghanistan. The envoy said that the wish of the Government is not to see less of the UN after 2014 but perhaps “working differently more in support of the priorities of Afghanistan to benefit the people of Afghanistan.” read more