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.
JOBS MINISTER RICHARD Bruton today confirmed plans to merge Ireland’s five existing workplace relations agencies into just two.The Workplace Relations Bill 2014, as had been mooted, would create the Workplace Relations Commission for initial complaints, and keep in place the Labour Court, for subsequent appeals.The functions of the existing Labour Relations Commission (LRC), National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), Equality Tribunal, and Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) will be folded into the two bodies.In a statement this evening, Bruton claimed that the legislation – which has secured government backing – would cut staffing costs by 20% and reduce budgets by €2m (or 10%)He also promised a better service to “employers and employees who wish to avoid or resolve disputes…or have employment rights enforced or adjudicated.”“Enactment of the legislation is targeted by the end of 2014,” Bruton added.The Fine Gael TD began a two-part public consultation on labour dispute resolution in 2011.The aim of the reform was to simplify and speed up Ireland’s workplace complaints process, which at one time required the completion of 30 separate forms, and took up to two years.After eight separate reports, the department found that the dispute resolution process was “so complex that even experienced practitioners find it difficult to comprehend.”Read: Consultation opens on replacement of five employment dispute resolution bodies> read more