U.S. factory production rose for 6th straight month in February

Boeing factory
A worker assembles a Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane wing at the company’s production facility Feb. 13 in Renton, Wash.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

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% last month from January. That followed another 0.5% gain the previous month.

Mining output rose 2.7% in February, spurred partly by more oil and gas drilling. Utility production plunged 5.7% 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.