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Industrial production flat in Oct.; factories hum

WASHINGTON (AP) — Industrial production was unchanged in October, as a sharp drop in utility output offset gains by manufacturers producing big-ticket goods for consumers and businesses.

The Federal Reserve says that output at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities was flat last month after falling by 0.2 percent in September. That was its first decline since the recession ended.

The key manufacturing sector gained 0.5 percent last month, led by increased output of long-lasting goods such as autos, appliances and business equipment.

Factories are the largest single component of industrial production. They helped lead the economy out of recession, but have grown more slowly in recent months. October’s solid gain eased fears that the manufacturing recovery could stall, weighing down the broader economy.

The Fed revised September’s factory production to a 0.1 percent gain. Earlier reports said factory output fell by 0.2 percent that month. The result was boosted by late data on steel, machinery and chemical producers.

Production by utilities fell by 3.4 percent in October, as warm weather eased demand for electricity and gas heat. Mines produced 0.1 percent less.

U.S. industry operated at 74.8 percent of its capacity in October, unchanged from September.

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