Still, factory output improved 0.2% in December as the metal, wood product, computer and food and beverage sectors improved. Output at auto plants fell 4.6% in December after a November surge following the end of the General Motors strike.
Mining output increased 1.3% last month because of gains in extracting oil and natural gas. After an unseasonably cold November, temperatures in December nationwide were 36.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.8 degrees above the 20th Century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The government agency estimated that energy demand during December was 56 % below average.