Surprise drop in US industry

US industrial output unexpectedly fell in January as a return to normal winter temperatures caused a sharp fall in utility output, while production from mines also fell, a Federal Reserve report showed yesterday.

Industrial production fell 0.1 per cent after an upwardly revised 1.2 per cent jump in December, which had been driven by unseasonably cold weather that spiked heating demand.

The drop was the first decline in output since June 2009 and fell short of forecasts for a 0.5 per cent increase.