United States fac­tory out­put down in May, hurt by oil re­fin­ing cuts


A decline in re­fin­ing oil caused U.S. fac­tory out­put to slip in May, over­shad­ow­ing solid gains by au­tomak­ers.

The Fed­eral Re­serve said Mon­day that man­u­fac­tur­ing out­put de­clined 0.2 per­cent last month, as pro­duc­tiv­ity has ba­si­cally been flat since Jan­uary. Man­u­fac­tur­ing has been hurt the stronger dollar, higher oil prices re­duc­ing equip­ment or­ders and ac­tiv­ity at re­fin­ers, and pre­vi­ously by cold win­ter weather at the start of the year.

Over­all industrial pro­duc­tion — which also in­cludes util­i­ties and min­ing — fell 0.2 per­cent in May. Min­ing ac­tiv­ity that cov­ers oil and nat­u­ral gas drilling tum­bled for the fifth straight month, while out­put at util­i­ties in­creased slightly.

In the man­u­fac­tur­ing cat­e­gory, fos­sil fuel re­fin­ing and chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion dropped last month, as did the food, bev­er­age and tobacco sec­tor.

But in a sign of con­sumer strength, auto pro­duc­tion rose 1.7 per­cent.

The third con­sec­u­tive monthly im­prove­ment at auto plants is among the signs of a broader fac­tory come­back. Other re­ports in­di­cate that an industrial resur­gence could help pro­pel stronger growth through the rest of 2015.

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