Washington — Big industry production surged by 1.1 percent in May, the strongest performance in nearly six years, and a nationwide survey of business activity is showing widespread strength, two fresh signs of economic momentum.
The sizable increase in industrial production reported Wednesday by the Federal Reserve came after a strong 0.8 percent rise in April. The 1.1 percent advance -- better than the 0.6 percent rise that some economists were expecting -- represented the biggest gain since August 1998.
Factory production -- the biggest slice of industrial activity tracked by the Fed -- rose by 0.9 percent in May, up from a 0.7 percent increase the month before.
In a second report, the Fed said economic activity continued to expand across the nation in April and May.
The job climate also improved, with hiring increasing at a faster pace in most of the Fed's 12 regions, the report said.