State Factories See Slower Pace

WASHINGTON — Factories in New York State grew more slowly this month as shipments rose and new orders slipped.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Friday that its Empire State Manufacturing index declined to 18 in December from 19.4 last month. The index is down from a three-year high of 30.2 last month. Still, any reading over zero signals growth. The index is watched closely by economists because it provides a first look at the health of U.S. manufacturing each month.

A measure of shipments increased at a faster pace in December, while a gauge of new orders rose at a slightly slower pace. Hiring slipped but remained positive.

U.S. factories are benefiting from solid global growth and a cheaper dollar, which makes U.S. goods less expensive overseas. Those trends have lifted exports of manufactured goods.

A gauge of inventories fell to just 1.4, a sign companies are clearing out their stockpiles. That could boost production in future months.

And there were signs of mild inflationary pressures. A measure of the prices paid by factories for raw materials rose five points to 29.7, though that is below levels that were reached earlier this month.

US Production Rises Slightly

WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production rose .2 percent in November due to a rebound in extracting oil and natural gas after a stoppage due to Hurricane Nate.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that mining activity climbed 2 percent last month, while manufacturing activity rose 0.2 percent. Production of machinery and primary metals contributed to gains in the factory sector, while the overall growth for industrial output largely came from restarting oil and natural gas drilling.

Production at utilities fell 1.9 percent.

During the past 12 months, total industrial production has increased 3.4 percent.

Along with greater mining activity, factories are showing signs of strength. Factories are using more of their capacity and hiring more workers. Manufacturers have added 189,000 jobs over the past year, according the employment report released last week.

Dairy Workers Hitting Cows

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Police in Florida arrested three dairy farm employees on animal cruelty charges following the release of an undercover video by animal rights group showing workers abusing cows.

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said three McArthur Dairy workers were arrested Wednesday, The Palm Beach Post report ed.

The video by Animal Recovery Mission showed workers striking cows in the face and udders with plastic pipes, Stephen said. Three other dairies also are being investigated, he said.

Jamaison Schuler of Dean Foods, which owns the McArthur Dairy brand, said in a statement the company doesn’t own or control any dairy farms, though milk from McArthur Dairy is part of its supply.

Schuler said the company was “appalled at the behaviors shown in the video.”

Publix supermarkets suspended milk deliveries from the dairy.

Richard Couto, founder of the Miami Beach-based animal rights group, has said its members began working at dairies in Florida this past summer to get an overview of how the animals were being treated in the industry — not because of specific reports of mistreatment. But he says they found evidence of mistreatment almost immediately.