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US industrial production posts biggest gain since 2014

FILE - In this Monday, May 1, 2017, file photo, a Greenwood Utilities lineman works on power lines in Durant, Miss., as cleanup continues from a possible tornado that swept through the rural community a day earlier. On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Federal Reserve reports on industrial production for April. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — American industry expanded production last month at the fastest pace in more than three years as manufacturers and mines recovered from a March downturn.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that industrial production at U.S. factories, mines and utilities shot up 1 percent in April from March, biggest gain since February 2014 and the third straight monthly gain. The increase was more than twice what economists had expected.

Factory production rose 1 percent after declining 0.4 percent in March. Mine production increased 1.2 percent after falling 0.4 percent in March. And utility output rose 0.7 percent after surging 8.2 percent in March.

Factory production has risen three of four months this year. Manufacturing has recovered from a rough patch in late 2015 and early 2016 caused by cutbacks in the energy industry and a strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods costlier in foreign markets.

The overall U.S. economy grew at a lackluster 0.7 percent annual pace from January through March. But economists expect growth to pick up the rest of the year as consumers ramp up spending.

A healthy job market bolsters consumer confidence. Employers last month added 211,000 jobs and unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, lowest in a decade.

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