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Ahead of the Bell: US Industrial Production

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October 28, 2013 06:24 AM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve reports Monday on the output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities in September. Report to be released at 9:15 a.m. EDT.

OUTPUT UP: Economists forecast that overall industrial production rose 0.3 percent in September, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be slightly below August's 0.4 percent gain.

Factory output — the most important component of industrial production — jumped 0.7 percent in August. It was the biggest gain in eight months, and it was driven higher by a 5.2 percent increase in auto production. Auto sales have surged this year to pre-recession levels. .

Mining output rose in August, while utility production fell for the fifth straight month.

MIXED MESSAGES: The solid factory output increase in August suggested that manufacturing was rebounding after starting the year weak. Europe has emerged from a long recession and Japan's growth has accelerated, boosting overseas demand for U.S. products.

On Thursday, the government said exports of some manufactured goods rose in August. Exports of autos and auto parts increased to a record $13.1 billion.

But other reports paint a mixed picture. Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in September but only because of a jump in volatile demand for commercial aircraft. Orders for industrial machinery and other core capital goods, a better gauge of business confidence in the economy, fell. Economists pay closer attention to those orders because they typically signal expansion.

The partial government shutdown this month is weighing on overall economic growth and may have caused some companies to postpone placing orders for big purchases in September.

Still, one measure of manufacturing said overall factory activity expanded in September at the fastest pace in 2 ½ years. The closely watched Institute for Supply Management manufacturing survey noted that production rose and manufacturers stepped up hiring, while new orders jumped, though not as quickly as the previous month.

The Fed's report on industrial production was delayed by the 16-day shutdown. It was originally scheduled to be released Oct. 17.

Most economists predict growth slowed in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of about 1.5 percent to 2 percent, down from a 2.5 percent rate in the April-June quarter. And the shutdown is likely to keep growth at that sluggish pace for the final three months of the year.