FACTORY OUTPUT: U.S. factories slowed output in January because of a big drop in production at auto plants. Manufacturing fell 0.4 percent in January after gains of 1.1 percent in December and 1.7 percent in November.
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION: Overall industrial production dropped 0.1 percent. A big rise in utility output, reflecting colder weather, offset some of the weakness in manufacturing and mining.
OUTLOOK: U.S. manufacturing was hurt in 2012 by a weakening global economy which cut into exports and by sluggish consumer spending. The expectation is that 2013 will be slightly better, helped by continued improvements in auto sales.
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