Industrial ETFs To Gain As US Manufacturing Picks Up Amid Coronavirus

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The latest update on U.S. manufacturing output looks impressive. Per the Federal Reserve’s recently-released data, industrial production including output at mines and utilities rose 0.9% in January after gaining a revised 1.3% in December. Further, the output at factories rose 1% month over month in January compared with a 0.9% gain in December and economists’ projection of a 0.7% increase.

This fourth straight-monthly increase is also highlighting the recovery from the pandemic-induced slowdown. Although the factories continue to struggle with supply-chain disturbances and labor shortages, the output is rebounding as the Fed’s gauge of factory output is just 1.9% below its pre-pandemic level, per a Bloomberg article.

Moreover, mining output, which includes oil and gas exploration rose 2.3% last month. However, production in the utilities sector dipped 1.2% in the previous month. In January, the manufacturing capacity utilization for the industry, which is the measure for studying how efficiently firms are utilizing their resources, was at 74.6%, up from 73.9%, per the Fed’s report. Moreover, total capacity utilization including factories, mines and utilities inched up to 75.6% from 74.9% as stated in a Bloomberg article. The overall plant-use rate was observed just below the pre-pandemic level of 76.9%.

Current U.S. Economic Scenario

U.S. retail sales climbed an impressive 5.3% in January on a month-over-month basis to hit a seven-month high, the Commerce Department informed on Feb 17. In fact, retail sales had declined 1% in December despite the holiday season witnessing record sales last year. Excluding autos, sales rose 5.9%, surpassing analysts’ estimates of a 1% rise. 

The U.S. housing sector largely supported the economy by mostly staying resilient to the coronavirus outbreak amid a low-interest rate environment. Per the monthly National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), builder sentiment for newly-built single-family homes came in at 84 in February in comparison to 83 points in January, 86 in December, 90 in November and 30 in April (the lowest since June 2012). The metric also surpassed economists’ median forecast of 83, per a Bloomberg poll.

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