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U.S. Industrial Output Drops

FILE: Line workers smooth out the metal along the door frames on the flex line at Nissan Motor Co's automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Taken August 23, 2018.
FILE: Line workers smooth out the metal along the door frames on the flex line at Nissan Motor Co's automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Taken August 23, 2018.

US industrial production retreated last month amid a drop in oil output and as manufacturing posted only a modest gain, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

Total output slipped 0.1 percent, a weaker-than-expected result that was made worse by downward revisions to the prior month's data showing a modest uptick rather than the big increase initially reported, the data showed.

Petroleum production fell 1.9 percent, as the Fed said "a drop in oil and gas extraction outweighed improvements in oil and gas well drilling and in coal mining."

Utilities output fell 1.5 percent last month, the third straight decline, the report said.

And industrial capacity slipped to 79.9 percent.

But output of motor vehicles and parts jumped 2.0 percent, and electronic equipment and appliances gained almost that much, a sign supplies of key components like computer chips have eased.

Those gains outweighed losses in other categories, the data showed.

The disappointing result comes as companies have struggled with surging costs and supply chain snarls, as well as weakening demand amid rising interest rates, that also make the cost of US-made goods more expensive abroad.

Economists remain wary about the coming months as the world's largest economy slows and faces a reversal of growth.

"We look for the industrial sector more broadly to suffer a downturn as the economy experiences a mild recession in the first half of 2023," said Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics.

"Weakening demand, higher interest rates, and supply chain difficulties will continue to pose challenges for industrial activity in the months ahead," she said in an analysis of the data.

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Meta Toughens Content Curbs for Teens on Instagram, Facebook

FILE - Woman holds smartphone with Meta logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture
FILE - Woman holds smartphone with Meta logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture

WASHINGTON — Meta on Tuesday said it was tightening up content restrictions for teens on Instagram and Facebook as it faces increased scrutiny that its platforms are harmful for young people.

The changes come months after dozens of U.S. states accused Meta of damaging the mental health of children and teens, and misleading users about the safety of its platforms.

In a blog post, the company run by Mark Zuckerberg said it will now "restrict teens from seeing certain types of content across Facebook and Instagram even if it's from friends or people they follow."

This type of content would include content that discusses suicide or self-harm, as well as nudity or mentions of restricted goods, the company added.

Restricted goods on Instagram include tobacco products and weapons as well as alcohol, contraception, cosmetic procedures and weight loss programs, according to its website.

In addition, teens will now be defaulted into the most restricted settings on Instagram and Facebook, a policy that was in place for new users and that now will be expanded to existing users.

This will "make it more difficult for people to come across potentially sensitive content or accounts in places like Search and Explore," the company said.

Meta also said that it will expand its policy of hiding results to searches related to suicide and self harm to include more terms.

Leaked internal research from Meta, including by the Wall Street Journal and whistle-blower Frances Haugen, has shown that the company was long aware of dangers its platforms have on the mental health for young people.

On the platforms, teens are defined as being under eighteen, based on the date of birth they give when signing up.

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