Industrial production rose in January after lagging for three months. The 1.1 percent increase, reported by the Federal Reserve Wednesday, seemed to indicate the economy was accelerating after a slowdown in late '83.
The gain in the survey of factories, mines, and electric and gas utilities was the most since September's 1.3 percent increase. It followed a far weaker November (0.3 percent) and December (0.6 percent). Auto and construction-supply manufacturing led the index.
Two factors indicate that even more increases in output are likely:
* The January increase occurred despite a decline in electricity output - a significant component of the index. Electrical consumption should grow as the recovery matures.
* A separate Commerce Department index, also released Wednesday, showed the ratio of business inventories to sales at a record low. Thus, the restocking of inventories could still provide demand growth for industrial production.
Still, news that production has grown can be taken two ways: It might reassure investors that talk of recession is premature. But some analysts could fear a squeeze on vital products in the near future. That would be a recipe for inflation.
Manufacturing is considered especially sensitive to the economic climate. For this reason, bear in mind that changes in this ''coincident'' index can be more dramatic than changes in the overall US economy.
Like other such economic barometers, this index is measured against a 1967 level of 100. January stood at 158.1.