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February industrial output rises on manufacturing rebound

A Ford Motor production worker assembles batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti
A Ford Motor production worker assembles batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Industrial production rose more than expected in February on a rebound in manufacturing, showing the economy continues to gain momentum in 2013.

Industrial production grew 0.7 percent last month, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected industrial output to rise 0.4 percent.

Manufacturing output rose 0.8 percent during the month, snapping back from a decline in January.

Industry capacity utilization, a measure of how fully firms are using their resources, rose to 79.6 percent in February. That was the highest average since March 2008 when it was 80.1 percent.

Officials at the Fed often look at utilization measures as a signal of how much "slack" remains in the economy, and how much room growth has to run before it becomes inflationary.

(Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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