Today’s Industrial Production figures show that the auto industry is well on its way back to full production after the Japan disaster. The Motor Vehicles and Parts segment of the Manufacturing sector jumped 5.2% in July, contributing to a minor rise in Manufacturing overall of 0.6%. This is the first month since the disaster that has exhibited a notable rise in the automotive sector.

Consumer segments were up as well, with durable goods (carpeting, furniture, electronics, etc.) up 3.2%, driven primarily by a 5.9% increase in automotive products. Nondurables (fuel, clothing, paper products, etc.) were essentially a wash, with a 0.5% uptick driven mainly by increased utility output in this hot Summer month.

The economy overall has of course been exhibiting mixed signals for most of 2011. Consumer confidence took a hit with the Dow swings of the past two weeks, so August’s consumer goods production figures might not be as rosy as July’s. However, consumer confidence is a lagging indicator, and if the stock market becomes a bit more stable, the effect might not be too drastic when looking at this month on average.

The real question is the extent to which consumers will act on pent-up demand for new vehicles. With the critical Toyota make coming back on line, an uptick is all but assured. The wild card will be the impact of economic instability on the purchasing decision.