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U.S. industrial output rises in March, manufacturing gains

Ford assembly line employees work on 3500 Duramax engine as they move along the assembly line at the Ford Lima Engine Plant in Lima, Ohio, M
Ford assembly line employees work on 3500 Duramax engine as they move along the assembly line at the Ford Lima Engine Plant in Lima, Ohio, M

By Elvina Nawaguna

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. manufacturing output rose for a second straight month in March in a sign of recovery from a long winter that had put a damper on activity.

Factory production increased 0.5 percent in March, according to data from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Overall industrial production was up 0.7 percent, beating analysts' expectations. February's industrial production was revised up to a gain of 1.2 percent from a previously reported 0.6 percent rise, due to stronger gains for durable goods manufacturing and for mining, the Fed said.

Mining output rose 1.5 percent in March, while utilities were up 1.0 percent.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 0.5 percent jump in manufacturing output, and a 0.5 percent rise in overall industrial output in March.

Capacity utilization, a measure of how intensively firms use their resources, was up to 79.2 percent from a revised 78.8 percent in February. March's capacity utilization rate was the highest since June 2008.

Officials at the Fed tend to look at utilization measures as a signal of how much "slack" remains in the economy, and how much room there is for growth to run before it becomes inflationary.

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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