November 16, 2010 / 2:19 PM / 9 years ago

Weak utilities keep October industrial output flat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. industrial production was flat in October, Federal Reserve data showed on Tuesday, a weaker-than-expected showing that reflected a big drag from utilities.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.3 percent for October, after a decline of 0.2 percent in September.

Manufacturing edged up 0.5 percent, its biggest gain since July, but utilities output dropped 3.4 percent because unseasonably warm temperatures reduced demand for heating.

The capacity utilization rate, a measure of slack in the economy, was flat at 74.8 percent. That was up 6.6 percentage points from a June 2009 low but remained 5.8 points below its 1972-2009 average.

The figures suggest the economy continues to trudge along at a sluggish pace, not fast enough to put much of a dent in the unemployment rate — or discourage the Fed from completing its planned $600 billion bond-buying program.

Reporting by Emily Kaiser, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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