Harsh winter leads to drop in factory output

In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, workers assemble ovens at the new Electrolux home cooking appliance factory in Memphis, Tenn.  The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for January on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP File Photo/Adrian Sainz)
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, workers assemble ovens at the new Electrolux home cooking appliance factory in Memphis, Tenn. The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for January on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP File Photo/Adrian Sainz)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January. Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production.

The Federal Reserve said factory production plunged 0.8 percent in January, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November. Automakers lost days of production because of snowstorms, as their production plummeted 5.1 percent, the report said.

Factory output rose a modest 1.3 percent over the past 12 months.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell 0.3 percent in January. Output for utilities rose 4.1 percent last month as the freezing temperatures boosted heating demand.

Factories responded to the weather by running at a lower 76 percent capacity, a 0.7 percentage point drop over the month and 2.7 percentage points below the long-run average.

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