Economy U.S. factory output declined sharply in Nov.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. industrial production fell in November for the first time in seven months. Factories made fewer cars, electronics and appliances.

The Federal Reserve says that output at the nation's factories, utilities and mines dropped 0.2 percent last month.

Factory output, the biggest component of industrial production, decreased 0.4 percent, mainly because of steep a decline in the production of motor vehicles and parts. Production of home electronics, business equipment and supplies and apparel also fell.

Without the volatile automotive category, factory output decreased 0.2 percent last month.

The decline in industrial production was the first since April. Still, manufacturing can be volatile from month to month. And a separate regional survey from the Fed showed that factory growth in the Northeast expanded in December at the fastest rate since May.

Factory output appeared to strengthen recently, rising in every month since June as output of autos, auto parts and refined energy products soared. But a shorter factory work week may have slowed manufacturing growth last month, economists say.

Other signals have been more encouraging. A private index of manufacturing activity suggested modest growth in November. The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose to 52.7 in November from 50.8 in October.

Published: Fri, Dec 16, 2011

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