Superstorm Sandy depressed U.S. industrial output in October, while production of machinery and equipment declined sharply, reflecting a more cautious outlook among businesses.
The Federal Reserve says industrial output fell 0.4 per cent last month, after a 0.2 per cent gain in September. Excluding the storm's impact, production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities would have been up about 0.6 per cent.
Factory output, the most important component, fell 0.9 per cent. It would have been unchanged without the storm. Machinery production fell 1.9 per cent, while production of electrical equipment, appliances and components declined 1.4 per cent.
Manufacturing has weakened since spring, partly because companies have scaled back purchases of equipment and machinery. Many are worried about tax increases and federal spending cuts that take effect in January unless Congress reaches a budget deal.