Weak U.S. factory data suggest softer economic growth

Petrochemical Plant

(Reuters) - U.S. manufacturing output fell in February for the third straight month as the production of automobiles and a range of goods tumbled, the latest indication of slower economic growth in the first quarter.

Factory production slipped 0.2 percent after declining 0.3 percent in January, the Federal Reserve said on Monday.

"The recovery appears to have hit a soft patch," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.