America’s manufacturing sector continued its recovery in April according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve – but the upturn remains slow.

Industrial production climbed 0.4% from March to April, the fourth consecutive month to register a rise. The improvement follows an identical increase the month before (revised downwards from earlier estimates of 0.7%). The proportion of industrial capacity being utilised also rose in April, reaching a seven-month high of 75.5%.

Meanwhile, a separate survey from the Commerce Department shows that inventories fell again in March, dropping 0.3%. However, the decline is slower than it was a few months ago. The average monthly drop for the first quarter of this year was 0.2%, compared with 1% for Q4 2001.

Together, the surveys underline the sluggish nature of the manufacturing recovery, in stark contrast to recent rapid gains in consumer spending [WAMN: 15-May-02].

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff