US industrial output falls 1pc in December vs 2018, reports Fed

A line worker installs the front seats on the flex line at Nissan Motor Co’s automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, US, August 23, 2018. — Reuters pic
A line worker installs the front seats on the flex line at Nissan Motor Co’s automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, US, August 23, 2018. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 — The output of US industry fell 1 per cent in December last year compared to the same month of 2018, driven by drops in a manufacturing sector impacted by bitter trade wars, the Federal Reserve reported today.

American manufacturing, which has been in recession for months, saw production fall 1.3 per cent in the final month of 2019 compared to a year earlier, the Fed said.

Petroleum and coal production which has seen strong gains in some months, including December, was 1.2 per cent lower than a year ago, according to the report.

Total output in December dipped 0.3 per cent compared to November, but that was skewed by a large drop-off in utilities due to unseasonably warm weather last month, which came after colder than usual temperatures in November.

Manufacturing gained just 0.2 per cent “despite a decrease of 4.6 per cent for motor vehicles and parts,” the Fed said.

“Excluding the motor vehicle sector, factory output rose 0.5 per cent.”

Mining output in the month rose 1.3 per cent and is up 1.4 per cent year-over-year, with most of the gains due to oil and gas extraction.

Meanwhile, industrial capacity in use fell to 77 per cent, the lowest since September 2017, and well below the average of the last five decades. — AFP

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