WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. factory production of machinery and equipment fell sharply last month, held back by temporary disruptions caused by Superstorm Sandy and companies' fears that a federal budget crisis could trigger a recession next year.
The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output, the most important component of industrial production, fell 0.9 percent in October from September. It would have been unchanged without the storm, the Fed said.
Overall industrial production fell 0.4 percent last month. Utility output dipped 0.1 percent, while mining, which includes oil and gas production, rose 1.5 percent.
"Even excluding the impact of Sandy, manufacturing output was no better than stagnant, so there is nothing to be encouraged about in this report," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
Manufacturing has weakened since spring, in part because companies have scaled back purchases .