WASHINGTON — After leading the economy out of recession last year and then flagging over the summer, manufacturers might be getting a second wind.

Factories boosted their output in October by the most since July, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Its report follows several other positive readings on the economy, including data released Monday that showed retail sales rose in October by the most in seven months.

“After a pretty disappointing summer, the economic recovery might be picking up,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.

And a report Tuesday on wholesale prices showed that the rising production and sales aren’t increasing prices enough to fan inflation fears. That gives the Federal Reserve leeway to carry out its $600 billion bond purchase plan to try to lower interest rates and spur growth.

The Fed’s bond-purchase plan has sparked criticism from some economists who say it risks triggering runaway inflation later on. But several analysts said Tuesday’s tame wholesale price report provides support for the Fed’s move.

“The incoming data suggests, at least for now, that the Fed was justified in its decision,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

Meanwhile, as profit reports from major retailers flow in, it’s clear that lower- to middle-class consumers are unlikely to open their wallets wide this holiday season amid an unemployment rate that’s stuck at almost 10 percent.

The wealthy are recovering faster, buoyed by a rising stock market. But their spending still isn’t quite back to where it was before the Great Recession.

So companies are learning new ways to tighten expenses in a tepid environment. They’re also looking abroad to bolster sales. That’s generally resulting in solid profits for retailers so far.

“(Retailers) are doing a good job in generating profit growth,” said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics, a research firm. “It’s tough sledding out there, on the domestic front. It’s a zero-sum game. If you miss the boat, competitors are going to take your dollars.”

Based on the 58 retailers that have reported results, total profits are up 11 percent so far compared with last year’s third quarter; Perkins expects that to rise to 14 percent by the time earnings season is done, on top of the 7.8 percent increase last year.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 9.3 percent increase in third-quarter net income as the world’s largest retailer benefited from cost controls and a robust international business. The company also raised its full-year profit outlook.

Manufacturers boosted their production by 0.5 percent in October, the Fed said Tuesday. The gain was led by increased output of long-lasting goods such as autos, appliances and business equipment. Overall, industrial production was unchanged last month — but only because of a drop in utilities’ output as unusually warm weather reduced demand for heating.

Economists welcomed the increase in factory production as a sign that business and consumer spending is growing at a sustainable, if still modest, pace.

Wholesale prices rose in October, the fourth straight monthly increase. The gain was due mainly to higher gas costs, and there was no sign of significant inflation as the costs of food, cars and computers all fell. The Producer Price Index rose 0.4 percent, the Labor Department said. The index has risen 4.3 percent over the past 12 months.

But excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the “core” index fell by 0.6 percent. That was the sharpest drop in more than four years. The decline was driven by falling prices for new cars and trucks.

With prices largely in check, the Fed said earlier this month it will buy $600 billion in government bonds over the next eight months to try to lower longer-term interest rates. The idea is that lower rates could lift stock prices as investors shift money out of low-yielding bonds and into stocks. Higher stock prices would make people feel wealthier and more willing to spend.

And if business leaders become more confident as their personal wealth rises, they’re more likely to hire and expand. Once they do, the economy would strengthen.