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US industrial production unchanged in Feb. vs. 0.2% increase expected


U.S. factories cranked out more autos, steel and computers in February, the sixth straight monthly increase in manufacturing output.

The Federal Reserve says factory production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent last month from January. That followed another 0.5 percent gain the previous month.

Mining output rose 2.7 percent in February, spurred partly by more oil and gas drilling. Utility production plunged 5.7 percent as unseasonably warm weather reduced the need for heating. Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, was unchanged in February.

Factories are benefiting from greater consumer and business optimism since the elections. Companies are spending more on big-ticket items such as industrial machinery, and Americans are buying cars at near-record levels. Overseas growth has spurred more exports.