February 15, 2019 / 2:40 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. factory output drops, autos fall the most since recession

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 aircraft is seen during the manufacturing process at Boeing's 737 airplane factory in Renton, Washington, United States May 19, 2015. . REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. manufacturing output fell steeply in January as motor vehicle production posted its biggest fall since 2009, with declines in a broad range of goods likely to fuel fears of a sharp slowdown in factory activity.

The Federal Reserve said on Friday manufacturing production slumped 0.9 percent last month, the deepest drop in eight months. Data for December was revised to show a smaller increase in output that month than initially reported.

Production of motor vehicles and parts dropped 8.8 percent in January, the steepest decline since May 2009, when the United States was still mired in a deep recession. Output also fell last month for machinery, chemicals, electronics and aerospace equipment.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output rising 0.1 percent in January.

Total industrial output - which includes factories, mining operations and utilities - dropped 0.6 percent during the month. It was the first decline since May 2018.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci

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