updated 9/15/2010 10:18:51 AM ET 2010-09-15T14:18:51

Industrial production rose modestly in August and the manufacturing sector grew for the 12th time in 14 months.

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Output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities edged up 0.2 percent last month, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. It rose 0.6 percent in July.

Production gains at factories, the largest single element of industrial production, slowed to 0.2 percent after rising 0.7 percent in July. Much of softness came from a decline in auto production, which spiked in July. Excluding autos, manufacturing rose 0.5 percent.

Output rose for basic consumer goods such as food, clothing and paper by more than 1.0 percent.

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Manufacturing has helped drive economic expansion over the past year. Companies built up their stockpiles in the first half of the year after slashing them during the recession. But demand for goods has slowed in recent months as consumers are saving more and spending with caution.

The nation's factories were operating at 74.7 percent of their capacity, up 0.1 percent from July. That's still well below the average since 1972 of 80.6 percent.

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