U.S. manufacturing output was unchanged in March after two straight monthly declines, leading to the largest quarterly decrease in production since 2017.
The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday manufacturing production last month was restrained by weak motor vehicle output. Data for February was revised up to show output at factories falling 0.3 percent instead of declining 0.4 percent as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output edging up 0.1 percent in March. Production at factories dropped at a 1.1 percent annualized rate in the first quarter. That was the first quarterly drop since the third quarter of 2017 and followed a 1.7 percent pace of increase in the October-December period.
Motor vehicles and parts production dropped 2.5 percent last month after increasing 2.3 percent in February. An inventory overhang in the automobile sector is weighing on production, contributing to factory employment declining in March for the first time since July 2017.
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