WASHINGTON -- Consumer inflation edged up 0.2 in November as tamer energy costs and cheaper clothing prices helped to blunt the biggest jump in tobacco costs in seven months. Industrial output fell for the second month in a row.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the advance in its Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation gauge, matched October's inflation, when prices also rose by a a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent.
Worse-than-expected corporate earnings reports battered the stock market. In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 140 points and the Nasdaq index lost 100 points.
The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production fell in November, the third decline of the year and the biggest drop since July. In October, output declined by 0.1 percent.
Production fell an unexpected 0.2 percent last month, depressed by a sharp 0.5 percent drop in factory production, reflecting declines in many industries. Assembly of cars and light trucks in November slipped from an annual rate of 12.2 million in October to a rate of 11.9 million, the lowest since July 1998.
Output at gas and electric utilities, however, surged 3.6 percent in November as demand was pushed up because of the unseasonably cold weather.
The inflation report also showed that "core" prices, for goods other than food and energy -- which can swing widely from month to month -- rose by 0.3 in November, the largest increase since September.
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