WASHINGTON — Output at US factories declined slightly in July, reflecting a drop in auto production. The decline was expected to be temporary given the banner sales year automakers are having.
Manufacturing output edged down 0.1 percent in July compared with June, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. It was the first drop since declines in March and April.
July’s weakness reflected a 1.7 percent fall in the output of motor vehicles and parts. That decline should be reversed in coming months as automakers ramp up production for the new model year.
Overall industrial production, which includes factories, mines, and utilities, was flat in July after a 0.2 percent rise in June. A sharp 2.1 percent surge in mining was offset by a 2.1 percent drop in utility output.
Output in manufacturing, the most critical component of industrial production, is up a modest 1.3 percent from the level of a year ago. Economists say manufacturing may have begun to emerge from a weak patch earlier this year.
For July, the output of construction supplies and defense and space equipment showed gains. But production of business equipment was unchanged, and the output of information processing equipment fell.