Industrial production rose 0.4 percent in December following an upward revised increase in November of 0.3 percent and slightly smaller declines in October and September than were reported last month. The extremely cold weather in December caused a sharp rise in utility output, but also resulted in some disruptions in production, particularly in petroleum refining and construction supplies. Aircraft production returned to normal in December following the settlement of a strike at a major producer in late November. At 142.8 percent of the 1977 annual average, the total index in December was 1.7 percent higher than that of a year earlier; for the fourth quarter on average, total industrial output was little changed from the third quarter. Manufacturing output rose 0.2 percent in December, and factory utilization edged down to 83.1 percent. Detailed data for capacity utilization are shown separately in "Capacity Utilization," Federal Reserve monthly statistical release G.3.
In market groups, production of consumer goods rose 0.6 percent in December, mainly reflecting a surge in electricity and gas output for residential use and an increase in light truck production. Auto assemblies, at an annual rate of 6.2 million units, were unchanged from November. Output of home goods, particularly appliances, remained weak. …