New figures on deepening slump

The nation's industrial production took its steepest plunge of the re cession in May and June, the government reported Wednesday. But there were signs the auto industry may be starting a slow recovery.

The Federal Reserve Board said industrial production fell 2.4 percent in both May and June.The May figure was revised from an earlier estimated decline of 2.1 percent.

These were the steepest monthly drops since the combined output of US factories, mines, and utilities fell 3.4 percent in January 1975, during the last recession.

But government and private economists said the latest figures showed possible seeds of recovery, starting with the hard-hit automobile industry. Auto production rose about 7 percent from an annual rate of 5.5 million cars in May to 5.9 million cars in June.

Over the past few months, the Fed's output figures have shown that the recession has spread across virtually every sector of the economy. In June, production of goods for the home such as furniture and appliances declined 3.1 percent. Business equipment fell 2.3 percent.Construction supplies fell 4.5 percent.

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