Industrial production was unchanged in February as a sharp drop in mining output offset a third straight monthly gain in factory production, the Federal Reserve said on Friday.

Manufacturing output overall climbed 0.3 percent despite a decline in auto production after a January spike. Automakers have been trying to meet demand that had been pent up by a lack of popular models after natural disasters in Japan early last year disrupted supply chains.

The sharp drop in mining output partly reflected a drop off in natural gas extraction. An unusually warm winter has cut into natural gas demand and pushed prices sharply lower.

Capacity utilization, a measure of how close to full-out factories and mines are running, edged down to 78.7 percent, 1.2 percentage points above its year-ago level but 1.6 percentage points below its long-run average.

(Reporting By Timothy Ahmann and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Andrea Ricci)