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February industrial output falls on weak utilities

Feb. industrial output falls on weak utilities (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities fell an unexpected 0.1% in February, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a 0.7% increase. Production was pushed lower by a sharp 4.5% decline in utility output, reflecting unseasonably warm weather in the month. Industrial production was revised much higher in January, to a gain of 0.3% from the initial estimate of a 0.1% decline. Factory activity alone in February, the sixth straight monthly gain. Capacity utilization - a gauge of slack in the economy - slipped to 76.3% in February from 76.4% in January. This is below the average rate of 80.5 from 1972 through 2010.