WASHINGTON: Output at US factories drifted higher in November, marking the third straight month of gains as a post-hurricane rebound in oil and gas production continued, according to data released Friday.
But the pace of gains slowed sharply from October, when petrochemical plants and oil refineries roared to life after being idled by the late summer's back-to-back hurricanes.
November industrial production rose 0.2 percent from October, undershooting analyst expectations by a tenth of a point, according to the Federal Reserve.
The gain appeared smaller, however, after October's upward revision of three tenths of a percentage point to 1.2 percent growth.
Oil and gas extraction returned to normal levels after being subdued in October by Hurricane Nate. According to the central bank, without this increase overall US factory output would have been flat for the month.
Total industrial capacity in use posted a token tenth-of-a-point increase for the month, rising to 77.1 percent -- 3.4 percent above the level recorded a year ago and in line with analyst expectations, but still below its historical average.
Output for makers of defense and space equipment rose 0.7 percent, reversing an October decline and putting that index up in five of the past six months.
Production of primary metals pushed manufacturing output 0.2 percent higher, putting the sector up 2.4 percent above its year-ago level.