Factory production in the United States unexpectedly declined in January by the most since May 2009, with severe winter weather likely playing a role in holding back the economy. The 0.8 percent decrease by manufacturers followed a revised 0.3 percent gain the prior month that was weaker than initially reported, the Federal Reserve reported today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.1 percent advance. Total industrial production dropped 0.3 percent, even as utility output climbed the most in almost a year. Assembly lines slowed last month as colder weather curbed production, the Fed reported. The weakness is a clear pause in a key industry that has helped to boost the U.S. economy. A pickup in capital spending and faster hiring would help to spur production gains.
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