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US industrial output in February flat, manufacturing gains

[WASHINGTON] Manufacturing output posted its sixth straight increase in February, but unseasonably warm weather again dragged down utilities, keeping total industrial production flat in the month, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

Multiple manufactured product lines saw increases of one percent and higher including machinery, plastic, paper and metal products, pushing total manufacturing output up 0.5 per cent compared to January, the same increase as the prior month.

Motor vehicles and parts were just shy of that mark with an increase of 0.8 per cent in the month, reversing the decline of the same amount in January.

Manufacturing output - a key focus of President Donald Trump's administration - was 1.2 per cent higher than a year ago.

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Meanwhile, mining output increased 2.7 per cent, and was 1.8 per cent higher than February 2016.

However, utilities output fell 5.7 per cent, nearly the same decline as in January, "as continued unseasonably warm weather further reduced demand for heating," the report said.

That decline offset the gains in manufacturing and mining, to keep the overall Industrial Production index unchanged, after a drop of 0.1 per cent in the prior month, also attributed to unusually high temperatures.

Economists had been expecting industrial production to rise 0.2 per cent.

Industrial capacity in use last month slipped to 75.4 per cent, just a tenth lower than in January, and exactly as analysts forecast.