By Jason Lange
U.S. manufacturing output contracted in May for the second time in three months, the latest worrisome sign the American economy could be cooling.
Factory production shrank 0.4% last month, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. Total industrial output, which includes output at factories, mines and utilities, declined 0.1%.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected total industrial production to rise 0.1%.
The declines were widespread within the factory sector. Output for durable -- or long lasting -- goods dropped 0.5%. Production for nondurables fell 0.2%.
Utilities increased 0.8%.
Capacity utilization, a measure of how fully firms are using their resources, slipped to 79.0% in May.
Officials at the Fed tend to look at utilization measures as a signal of how much "slack" remains in the economy -- how far growth has room to run before it becomes inflationary.