Industrial production fell 0.4 percent in January after dropping 1.1 percent the month before, largely due to an upturn in automobile production, the Federal Reserve reported.
Output of automobiles and trucks, which fell sharply throughout the fourth quarter of last year, rebounded in January. Excluding this upturn, overall productivity would have declined by 0.6 percent last month.The Fed also reported that total industrial capacity utilization fell 0.5 percent last month to 79.9 percent, nearly 3 percentage points below year-ago levels.
Production of consumer goods other than motor vehicles fell last month. Since October, the Fed said, production at factories producing consumer goods has fallen 1.25 percent. Much of the decline was in clothing, energy products and home goods, such as appliances and furniture, the Fed said.
Production of business equipment excluding motor vehicles, fell 0.5 percent last month, due largley to a drop in production of information processing equipment.
Production of construction supplies fell further in January in a reflection of the weakness that has hammered the construction industry. Since last summer, construction supply equipment has falled more than 7 percent, the Fed said.
Textile production, which dropped sharply late last year, rose slightly last month. Production of chemicals was down.
Manufacturing production fell 0.4 percent last month, lowering the operating rate at factories to 78.8 percent, its lowest rate since September 1986.
Most industries were hit by production declines. In the past few months, most of the decline has been centered in the motor vehicle industry and its related suppliers, such as fabricated metal and steel.
Construction-related industries, including lumber, furniture and stone, clay and glass products, also have been hard hit, along with petroleum refining and apparel.