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US industrial production dips as slump in utilities offset manufacturing growth

U.S. industrial production returned to contraction territory in December 2019 following a recovery in the prior month, as a drop in the utilities sector's output more than offset a surprise gain in manufacturing, latest data from the Federal Reserve showed.

Seasonally adjusted industrial production slipped 0.3% month over month in December 2019, matching the consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday. The 1.1% increase in industrial output in November 2019, which benefited from the labor strike settlement at General Motors Co., was revised down to 0.8%.

Manufacturing output unexpectedly gained by 0.2% after a 1.0% rise in the previous month, despite a 4.6% drop in the production of motor vehicles and parts. The Econoday consensus estimate was for a 0.2% decline in manufacturing output.

The index for utilities fell 5.6% after November 2019's gain of 1.0%, driven by less demand for heating due to unseasonably warm weather in December 2019. Mining output advanced 1.3% after declining 0.2% in the prior month.

Year over year, industrial production was down 1.0% in December 2019.

Manufacturing capacity utilization rose 0.1 percentage point in December 2019 to 75.2%, which is 3.1 percentage points lower than its long-run average.

The industrial sector's capacity utilization rate decreased 0.4 percentage point in December 2019 to 77.0%, which is 2.8 percentage points lower than its long-run average.