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November 16, 2018 11:00 AM, EST

Industrial Production Grew Modest 0.1% in October

Worker at Ford truck plant A worker installs trim on a 2018 Ford F-150 truck on the assembly line at a plant in Dearborn, Mich. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

WASHINGTON — U.S. industry expanded slightly in October, with manufacturing growth offsetting declines in mining and utility production.

Industrial production ticked up a modest 0.1%, the fifth straight monthly gain, following a 0.2% advance in September and a sizable 0.8% advance in August, the Federal Reserve reported Nov. 16.
The Fed said that recent hurricanes lowered production by about 0.1 percentage point in both September and October.

The economy has been growing at a solid rate this year. The gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.5% in the July-September quarter, with manufacturing contributing to the momentum.

Worker at Ford truck plant

Assembly line at Ford's Rouge plant in Dearborn, Mich. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

But there are concerns that the strong dollar and a slowdown in global growth could hurt future U.S. export sales. There are also worries about labor shortages and the impact of President Donald Trump's get-tough trade policies, which have featured higher tariffs on aluminum and steel along with penalty tariffs on a range of Chinese goods. Other countries have already retaliated with penalty tariffs on American products.

Factory output was up 0.3% in October, matching the previous month despite a big drop in auto production, which fell 2.8% last month. It was the second decline for the auto sector in the past four months.

The Fed report showed that production of primary metals jumped a strong 3% in October. That was the highest monthly gain since November 2012. Trump's tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum were aimed at boosting prospects for U.S. producers.

Output at the nation's utilities dropped 0.5% in October after a smaller 0.1% decline in September. Output in the mining sector, which includes oil and gas production, was down 0.3% in October following a smaller 0.1% September dip. Both of those declines came after this sector reached an all-time high in August, reflecting strong gains in oil and gas production.