Industrial Productivity Up; Utilities Suffer Big Decline
Industrial production rose a slight 0.2 percent in July following a revised 0.3 percent gain in June, the government reported Thursday.
The Federal Reserve Board report said the June gain had originally been reported as a 0.1 percent advance.
The report said manufacturers enjoyed the biggest increase in activity during the month, a 0.3 percent increase which followed identifical 0.2 percent gains in May and June.
Output at the nation's mines rose a tiny 0.1 percent in July following a 0.3 percent June advance, but utilities suffered their second big drop in output as their production fell 0.9 percent in July following a 0.7 percent June decline.
In another report, the Federal Reserve said Thursday that Americans took on $6.8 billion more in installment debt than they paid off in June. It was the smallest monthly gain in consumer debt this year.
Meanwhile, auto industry analysts said the 10.1 percent decline in new car sales in early August stemmed mostly from a weakening car market rather than from as nationwide car haulers strike.
Chrysler Corp., whose dealers had a large oversupply of cars on hand when the strike began, was the only major domestic automaker reporting a year-to-year sales increase Wednesday for the Aug. 1-10period.
Its sales were up 15 percent.
In another somber economic report, the government said Wednesday that business sales plunged 2.1 percent in June, the second biggest decline on record. It also said unsold inventories continued to pile up.
On a more upbeat note, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that existing home sales rose 3.1 percent nationally in the second quarter compared with a year ago.
""Modestly lower mortgage interest rates were responsible for much of the improvement,'' the trade group said. …