The pace of growth, however, slowed November to December, the Fed said, as the monthly index measuring production dropped from 16.9 to 7.1 and the new orders index came in near zero, the break-even point between growth and contraction.
The shipments index, at 14.8 in November, also found its way to a near zero reading, coming in at 0.7 in December.
The capacity utilization index, which measures the pace of factory production compared to a facility going full steam, came in at 8.6 after a November reading of 16.6.
Despite the slowdown in business growth, respondents to the monthly survey indicated improved optimism for future business. The company outlook index, positive for seven consecutive months, shot up 7.5 points, the Fed said, to 15.5, its highest level in nearly two years.