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US industrial output falls 1% in December vs 2018: Fed

A gas flare at a Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Washington (AFP) - The output of US industry fell 1 percent in December last year compared to the same month of 2018, driven by drops in a manufacturing sector impacted by bitter trade wars, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.

American manufacturing, which has been in recession for months, saw production fall 1.3 percent in the final month of 2019 compared to a year earlier, the Fed said.

Petroleum and coal production which has seen strong gains in some months, including December, was 1.2 percent lower than a year ago, according to the report.

Total output in December dipped 0.3 percent compared to November, but that was skewed by a large drop-off in utilities due to unseasonably warm weather last month, which came after colder than usual temperatures in November.

Manufacturing gained just 0.2 percent "despite a decrease of 4.6 percent for motor vehicles and parts," the Fed said.

"Excluding the motor vehicle sector, factory output rose 0.5 percent."

Mining output in the month rose 1.3 percent and is up 1.4 percent year-over-year, with most of the gains due to oil and gas extraction.

Meanwhile, industrial capacity in use fell to 77 percent, the lowest since September 2017, and well below the average of the last five decades.