Factory output in July rises most since March

WASHINGTON (AP) ? A busy month for U.S. automakers lifted overall factory output in July by the most since the Japan crisis, an encouraging sign amid growing recession fears..

The Federal Reserve says factory output increased 0.6 percent last month. That’s the biggest increase since the March 11 earthquake in Japan, which disrupted supply chains and limited output by some U.S. auto plants.

Overall industrial production jumped 0.9 percent ? the biggest increase this year. Unusually hot weather in July drove demand for energy generated by utilities. Mining output increased, too.

Manufacturing had been a bright spot in the economy. But it has slowed in recent months.