U.S. factories cranked out more autos, furniture and food last month, boosting production by the most since July. Manufacturing output rose 0.5 percent in January, after falling in four of the previous five months, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. Overall industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, added 0.9 percent, the biggest jump in 14 months. The data could raise hopes that manufacturing may be stabilizing after output declined for much of last year.

Winter stalls homebuilding, especially in Midwest

Winter weather appears to have cut into homebuilding in the Midwest and Northeast, causing the pace of construction to tumble in January. Housing starts slipped 3.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million homes, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. A sharp 12.8 percent decline in construction in the Midwest and a 3.7 dip in the Northeast propelled the broader decrease, with construction also falling in the South.

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