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US industrial output falls for second straight month

[WASHINGTON] US industrial production fell for the second straight month in October, the Federal Reserve said on Tuesday, raising concerns for the robustness of fourth-quarter economic growth.

The Fed said industrial production fell 0.2 per cent last month after an unrevised 0.2 per cent drop in September.

Industrial production tallied by the Fed comprises manufacturing, mining and electric and gas utilities.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast industrial production to increase 0.1 per cent last month.

The drop in output reflected a 1.5 per cent decrease in the mining index. Utilities fell 2.5 per cent.

The industrial sector has been hampered by a slowdown in global growth, low commodities prices and a strong dollar, which have reduced overseas demand for US manufactured products.

Manufacturing output rose 0.4 per cent on increases in nearly all major categories of durable goods, particularly wood products, nonmetallic mineral products and electrical equipment, appliances and components. Manufacturing output fell 0.1 per cent in September.

With overall output declining, the percentage of industrial capacity in use fell 0.2 percentage point in October to 77.5 per cent, from an upwardly revised 77.7 per cent in September.

The US central bank views capacity use as a leading indicator in deciding how much further the economy can grow before sparking higher inflation.