Factory Output Falls Sharply as Auto Production Sags

U.S. factory output fell unexpectedly in March, charting its biggest decline in seven months as auto production contracted in a check on the manufacturing sector’s expansion.

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday manufacturing production dropped 0.4 percent last month. February’s output was revised down to show a 0.3 percent gain instead of the previously reported 0.5 percent increase.

Analysts had expected a 0.1 percent increase in factory output in March. Still, smoothing out monthly volatility, factory production rose at a 2.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter.

Despite the sharp decline in manufacturing output last month, overall industrial production rose 0.5 percent because of an 8.6 percent weather-driven surge in utilities generation. That was the largest increase in utilities output on record, which resulted from heating demand returning to seasonal norms after being suppressed by unusually warm weather in February, the Fed said.

Mining output increased 0.1 percent last



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