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Factory output holds nearly steady

Workers at a Motorola plant in Fort Worth, Texas. US factories barely boosted their output in September.

LM Otero/Associated Press/File

Workers at a Motorola plant in Fort Worth, Texas. US factories barely boosted their output in September.

WASHINGTON — US factories barely boosted their output in September, adding to other signs that the economy was slowing even before the government shutdown began on Oct. 1.

Manufacturing production rose only 0.1 percent, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That’s down from a 0.5 percent gain in August, which was slightly lower than previously reported.

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Automakers boosted their output in September, but the gain was offset by declines at makers of computers, furniture, and appliances.

Overall industrial production increased 0.6 percent in September, mostly because of a 4.4 percent jump in utility output. Utilities had fallen for five months. But September was unseasonably warm, likely increasing air conditioning use.

Mining output, which includes oil production, rose 0.2 percent, its sixth straight increase.

Factory output is the largest component of industrial production. It had shown signs of rebounding over the summer, raising hopes that factories would help drive economic growth in the second half of the year.

But several reports suggest businesses and consumers had both grown more cautious right before the 16-day partial government shutdown. And overall hiring has slowed.

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