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[WASHINGTON] US industrial production fell sharply in March, pulled down by lower utility output as bad winter weather faded, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.
Total industrial output fell 0.6 per cent, after a minimal 0.1 per cent rise in February.
The March drop was double what analysts expected.
Utilities output slid 5.9 per cent, largely reversing February's increase that was weather-related.
Mining output fell for the third straight month, but by a smaller 0.7 per cent.
Manufacturing eked out a 0.1 per cent gain after two months of declines.
Compared with a year ago, industrial output was up 2.0 per cent in March.
As industrial output slowed, capacity utilization fell for the fourth month running, hitting 78.4 per cent, well below the long-run average of 80.1 per cent.