US manufacturing output fell unexpectedly in January, recording its biggest drop in more than four and a half years, as cold weather disrupted production.
Factory production fell 0.8 percent last month – the largest decline since May 2009, the Federal Reserve said in a recent statement.
Output had increased by 0.3 percent in December.
The Federal Reserve attributed the first decline in factory output to “severe weather that curtailed production in some parts of the country.’’
Manufacturing joined retail sales and employment, suggesting a step-back in growth early in the first quarter as cold weather takes its toll.
The drop in factory output and a 0.9 percent fall in mining weighed on overall production, which fell 0.3 percent in January, the biggest drop since April.
Production at the nation’s mines, factories and power plants had increased 0.3 per cent in December.
But freezing temperatures boosted demand for heating last month, causing utilities production to jump 4.1 per cent.