America's manufacturing sector started 2004 on a bright note with a 0.8% rise in production for January, according to the Federal Reserve.

The increase indicates that the recovery in US industry is still on track despite a flat performance in December. For the whole of 2003, industrial production rose 0.2% -- its first annual gain since 2000.

The January surge reflects a 5.2% leap in utilities output, a result of cold weather. Factory production, meanwhile, edged up 0.3%.

There is now growing confidence in the outlook for America's economy this year. For example, the National Association for Business Economics has increased its forecast for 2004 economic growth to 4.6%, up from 4.5% four months ago.

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