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Output Slump in Unexpected Area Blindsides U.S. Factories

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U.S. Factory Production Unexpectedly Declines 0.2% in May

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American manufacturers are suffering from whiplash: Just as one area begins to perk up, another lapses into a funk.

A slump in output of military hardware and of non-durable goods such as food and fuel triggered an unexpected 0.2 percent drop in industrial production, according to data from the Federal Reserve issued Monday. More typical factory mainstays, including autos, machinery and business equipment, showed signs of life.