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Superstorm Sandy helps send US industrial production down 0.4 percent in October

Superstorm Sandy depressed U.S. industrial output in October, while production of machinery and equipment declined sharply, reflecting a more cautious outlook among businesses.

The Federal Reserve says industrial output fell 0.4 percent last month, after a 0.2 percent gain in September. Excluding the storm's impact, production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities would have been up about 0.6 percent.

Factory output, the most important component, fell 0.9 percent. It would have been unchanged without the storm. Machinery production fell 1.9 percent, while production of electrical equipment, appliances and components declined 1.4 percent.

Manufacturing has weakened since spring, partly because companies have scaled back purchases of equipment and machinery. Many are worried about tax increases and federal spending cuts that take effect in January unless Congress reaches a budget deal.

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