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Factory production up in February

Manufacturers are charging ahead as sales and inventories grow, spearheading a U.S. economic recovery that shows scant signs of lifting labor markets.

Factory production climbed 0.9 percent after rising 0.2 percent in February, the Federal Reserve said Thursday in Washington.

Regional data indicated the gains extended into this month.

"Manufacturing is doing pretty well," said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. "It is still very much in the lead. The labor market is a concern and a puzzle."

Intel Corp., the world's biggest chip maker, is among companies projecting sales will keep climbing as businesses invest in new equipment and the global recovery gathers momentum.

Warmer weather last month caused utility use to drop by the most in four years, limiting the overall gain in national industrial production to 0.1 percent, less than anticipated, the Fed's report showed.

Output of business equipment increased 1.4 percent as demand for computers, communications equipment and semiconductors climbed, showing capital investment is improving.- Bloomberg News

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