WASHINGTON – U.S. industrial output fell for a fifth straight month in December, capping the worst year since 1982 with a 0.1 percent decline, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.
Businesses ran at only 74.4 percent of full capacity, down from 74.5 percent in November and the lowest level of capacity utilization since April 1983.
The readings were slightly worse than Wall Street analysts had expected and underscored the weakness in the nation's hard-hit manufacturing sector. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected production to be unchanged from November's level, while capacity use was projected at about 74.6 percent.
Production in November was revised downward, to a 0.4 percent drop from the initially reported 0.3 percent decline.
For 2001 as a whole, output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities fell 3.9 percent, the worst showing since a 5.4 percent decline logged in 1982.