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US factory output rises for a fifth consecutive month

WASHINGTON -- U.S. factory output rose for a fifth straight month in December, as manufacturers cranked out more cars and trucks, appliances and processed food. The gains suggest factories gave economic growth a strong boost at the end of the year.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory production rose 0.4 percent in December. That follows gains of 0.6 percent in both November and October. Automakers increased their production 1.8 percent last month and 10.4 percent year over year.

Higher consumer demand is driving much of the increased manufacturing activity. Production of appliances, furniture, carpeting, food and clothing all grew in December. Output of consumer goods gained 0.5 percent.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, increased 0.3 percent in December. That's also the fifth straight monthly gain.

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