The Associated Press
The nation’s economy looked more resilient on Wednesday after reports that factories produced more goods in July and that homebuilders grew more confident in the housing recovery.
Economists approached the mostly positive data with some caution. The economy remains weak after a sluggish spring, and a severe drought in the Midwest could send food prices surging later this year and crimp consumer spending.
Still, the gains were encouraging, and they followed other July reports showing that consumers stepped up retail spending and that employers created the most jobs since February.
Factories made more cars, computers and airplanes last month, the Federal Reserve said. That helped drive industrial production, which includes output at factories, mines and utilities, up 0.6 percent in July, the fourth consecutive monthly increase.
Homebuilder confidence rose to a five-year high of 37 in August from 35 in July, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment index. While that is well below 50, the dividing line between positive and negative sentiment about the housing market, the index has been trending higher since October. And in August, many builders reported their best sales levels since February 2007.