In December, industrial production fell by 0.1%, according to the Federal Reserve.
According to a survey by The Wall Street Journal, the decline was below Wall Street expectations of a 0.2% gain.
Capacity utilization fell to 76.5% in December from 76.6% in the previous month. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits of operating the nation's factories, mines and utilities. Economists had predicted a 77% rate.
Key details: In December, auto production fell by 1.3% and was about 6% lower for the year. The total manufacturing of the product fell by 0.3%. Utility output fell by 1.5% on the relatively warm weather for the month. The mining, which includes oil and gas production, increased 2%. Manufacturing is a bright spot in the economy. Total industrial production is up 4% for the fourth quarter as a whole. Industrial production is up 3.7% for the year. The decline in auto production surprised many economists who had expected output to go up due to lean inventories. Market reaction: U.S. stocks DJIA, SPX, fell Friday due to concerns about hawkish comments from Fed officials this week.