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U.S. Industrial Production Rises Slightly More Than Expected In December

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With jumps in manufacturing and mining output more than offsetting a sharp pullback in utilities output, the Federal Reserve released a report on Friday showing industrial production in the U.S. increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of December.

The Fed said industrial production rose by 0.3 percent in December after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.4 percent in November.

Economists had expected industrial production to edge up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.6 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.

The slightly bigger than expected increase in production came as manufacturing output surged up by 1.1 percent in December after inching up by 0.1 percent in November, recording its biggest spike since last February.

The report said mining output also soared by 1.5 percent in December after jumping by 1.1 percent in the previous month.

On the other hand, utilities output plummeted by 6.3 percent in December after surging up by 1.3 percent in November, as warmer-than-usual temperatures lowered the demand for heating.

"With demand in key export markets weakening, and the appreciation of the dollar also weighing on the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, we expect growth in the factory sector will (eventually) slow sharply in 2019," said Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, "But for now, the industrial production figures provide another indication that economic growth remained solid heading into the first quarter."

The Fed also said capacity utilization for the industrial sector ticked up to 78.7 percent in December from an upwardly revised 78.6 percent in November.

Economists had expected capacity utilization to come in unchanged compared to the 78.5 percent originally reported for the previous month.

Capacity utilization in the manufacturing and mining sectors jumped to 76.5 percent and 94.8 percent, respectively, while capacity utilization in the utilities sector slumped to 75.0 percent.

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