updated 12/15/2008 10:16:23 AM ET 2008-12-15T15:16:23

Industrial output fell slightly less than expected in November as U.S. manufacturers continued to suffer from weakness in autos and many other areas.

Major Market Indices

The Federal Reserve reported Monday that industrial activity dropped by 0.6 percent in November. Economists expected a decline of 0.8 percent.

The manufacturing sector is suffering like the rest of the economy from the deepening recession, which has cut consumer demand for many products.

The 0.6 percent drop in November followed a revised 1.5 percent increase in October. However, that gain occurred after a 4.1 percent plunge in September, which represented the biggest one-month drop since a 5 percent decline in February 1946.

For November, manufacturing output was down 1.4 percent, reflecting a 2.8 percent decline in production at auto plants, the third drop in the past four months. Production fell by a huge 11 percent in August and 3.6 percent in October.

Detroit automakers last week got turned down in a bid for a bailout package from Congress when Senate Republicans insisted the auto unions agree to wage cuts. General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. all are seeking assistance, but the prospects at GM are considered the most dire.

After a weekend trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush told reporters on Air Force One on Monday that the administration would provide short-term government assistance, saying "an abrupt bankruptcy for autos would be devastating for the economy."

Output at the nation's mines, a category that includes oil and gas production, increased by 2.5 percent in November following an even bigger 7.2 percent rise in October. The October gain followed a 9.5 percent plunge in September as production along the Gulf Coast was disrupted by the September hurricanes.

Production at the nation's utilities rose by 1.6 percent in November following a 0.7 percent increase in October.

The government's new look at industrial production showed revisions to earlier estimates as the disruption caused by the hurricanes made the September drop look steeper, based on more complete data, and the October rebound look slightly larger.

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