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Industrial output up for first time in 6 mos.

The nation's industrial output rose by a slender 0.1 percent in November, the Federal Reserve reported, the first advance in six months. It was the first overall improvement in Industrial Production since a 0.7 percent improvement in July.

The combined output of the nation's factories, utilities and mines edged up by 0.1 percent, helped by a big boost in automobile production. But excluding the red-hot auto sector, output actually fell by 0.2 percent.

At the same time, the Fed revised its October output numbers to a 0.6 percent decline, somewhat smaller than the 0.8 percent drop originally reported.

Driving the overall gain in industrial output, the Fed reported, was a big 3.9 percent jump in auto production.

Excluding the automotive sector, the picture remained muted and mixed. Output of business equipment, a measure of a company's willingness to spend for new and updated equipment, fell for a third straight month. On the upswing, however, output of high-tech equipment, like computers, semiconductors and communications gear, rose for a second consecutive month, increasing by 0.6 percent.

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