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Factory production surges in February, led by auto manufacturing

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Industrial production in the U.S. rebounded last month, rising 0.7% -- the most in three months -- with auto manufacturing leading the way, the Federal Reserve said Friday.

Manufacturing output also rose in February, increasing by 0.8%. Last month's manufacturing output stands 2% higher compared with the same period a year earlier.

"Growth has clearly picked up," Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients. "This is another positive sign" for the economy in the January-March quarter.

Friday's report showed the U.S. economy is beginning to rev up as more consumers buy cars. The Federal Reserve reported the largest manufacturing output was in the production of motor vehicles and parts, which rose 3.6% last month. That compares with a 4.9% drop in January.

All major industry groups saw increases last month save for one: primary metals output dropped 2.6%.

Earlier this week, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending was surprisingly strong in February, rising 1.1%. The overall sales increase was the biggest in five months and twice as much as many analysts had forecast.

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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