U.S. factory production rose in December for the second straight month, buoyed by more output of autos, electronics and business equipment.
The Federal Reserve says factory output increased 0.8 percent last month compared with November. That followed a 1.3 percent rise in November, which reflected a rebound from Superstorm Sandy.
Total industrial production increased 0.3 percent in December following a 1 percent rise in November. Production slowed mostly because utility output dropped 4.8 percent, reflecting unseasonably warm weather.
The back-to-back gains in factory output offered some hope that manufacturing could be picking up after a weak year. One area that has been notable strong is the auto industry, which ended 2012 with its best sales in five years. Production of autos and parts grew 2.6 percent in December.