US factory output rose modestly in February

WASHINGTON (AP) ? U.S. factories stepped up production in February for the third straight month, making more electronics, energy products and electrical equipment.

The Federal Reserve says the output of the nation’s factories rose 0.3 percent last month. That followed even stronger increases in January and December, which combined for the best two month stretch since 1998.

Overall industrial production, which includes output by mines and utilities, was unchanged. Mining activity declined sharply and utilities were flat.

Factory growth was a little slower because automotive production edged lower after big gains in December and January.

Busier factories are a hopeful sign for an economy on the mend. Manufacturing was among the first sectors to recover after the recession. And it has strengthened since temporarily faltering last summer.