The Federal Reserve said today industrial production was down just 0.1% in January, the best performance in six months. The decline follows a 0.3% fall in December. The slight dip last month suggests the recession may be nearing an end.

The decline was a little smaller than many analysts expected and marked the best performance in industrial production since July, when output rose by 0.1%.

After decreases in 14 of the last 15 months, factory output was unchanged in January. A significant rebound in steel production was one of the factors preventing another drop in manufacturing production, the Fed said.