Industrial production increased 0.3% in December, according to a Federal Reserve report [link opens in PDF] released today.

Although the newest numbers reflect a drop from the previous month's 1% gain, November's numbers benefited from slowed October production caused by Hurricane Sandy. Total industrial production moved up at an annual rate of 1% for the fourth quarter as a whole.

Production has changed relatively little in the past six months, but December's data represent a 2.2% increase over December 2011. In the past 12 months, business equipment production has shot up 8.7%, for the largest sector gain, while utilities production, the only group to decline, fell 0.3%. 

The increase in manufacturing output was twice the consensus analyst estimate, rising 0.8% in December. The capacity utilization rate bumped up 0.1 percentage points to 78.8% for the month, beating analyst expectations of a 78.5% rate .

Source: Federal Reserve