(Bloomberg) -- US industrial production rose for a second month in March, boosted by a larger-than-expected increase in factory output as manufacturing shows further signs of stabilizing.

The 0.4% increase in production at factories, mines and utilities matched the prior month’s revised gain, Federal Reserve data showed Tuesday. Mining and energy extraction fell, while output at utilities picked up.

Manufacturing output rose 0.5% last month, led by motor vehicles and planes, after rising by the most in a year in February. Excluding autos, however, factory production posted a more modest gain of 0.3% in March.

Manufacturing, which accounts for three-fourths of total industrial production, is showing signs of turning a corner after more than a year of sluggish activity, helped by resilient consumer demand.

Earlier this month, the Institute for Supply Management’s measure of manufacturing activity across the US in March moved into expansion territory on stronger demand and a pickup in output.

At the same time, progress has been gradual as US producers contend with tepid export markets and higher borrowing costs limit capital spending. Input costs for key commodities like oil have also been on the rise.

Despite the pickup in February and March, factory activity was sluggish in January. In the first quarter, manufacturing production decreased 0.1%. That marked the fifth drop in last six quarters, but was much smaller than the other declines.

In addition to autos and aircraft, manufacturing in March was boosted by output of wood products and nondurable goods such as paper and chemicals. Production of consumer goods rose by the most since July, though output of business equipment barely increased.

Capacity utilization at factories, a measure of potential output being used, rose to 77.4%. The overall industrial utilization rate also ticked up.

--With assistance from Chris Middleton.

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