U.S. industrial production edges lower in December as auto production stumbles

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Numbers: Industrial production fell 0.1% in December, The Federal Reserve reported on Friday.

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According to a Wall Street Journal survey, the decline was below Wall Street’s expectations of a 0.2% gain.

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Capacity utilization declined to 76.5% in December from 76.6% in the previous month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the extent to which factories, mines and utilities operate in a country. Economists had estimated a rate of 77%.

Main details: Auto production fell 1.3% in December and was down about 6% for the year. Overall manufacturing declined 0.3%.

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Utility output fell 1.5% during the month’s relatively warm season. Mining, which includes oil and gas production, grew 2%.

big picture: Manufacturing remains a bright spot in the economy. For the fourth quarter as a whole, total industrial production grew 4%. For the year, industrial production is up 3.7%.

The decline in auto production came as a surprise to many economists, who had expected a pick-up in production due to lean inventories.

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