Published on April 17, 2014

Latest Fed Beige Book: 'Modest or moderate' economic growth

WASHINGTON (April 17, 2014) — Most of the 12 Federal Reserve districts reported “modest or moderate” economic growth in March and early April, according to the Fed’s latest Beige Book.

Boston, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco reported growth in the modest-to-moderate range, the document said. Chicago also reported growth, while New York and Philadelphia said business had rebounded from weather-related slowdowns during the winter. But Cleveland and St. Louis said economic activity had declined.

Auto sales were up in most districts other than St. Louis and Cleveland, the Beige Book said. Manufacturing activity improved in most districts, as did transportation activity, according to the document.

“Even in districts where transportation was soft, the outlook was optimistic,” it said.

Residential construction was up in several districts, and commercial construction improved everywhere except Cleveland, the Beige Book said. Loan demand strengthened during the period, and credit quality improved in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond and Kansas City, it said.

Labor market conditions were mixed though generally positive, according to the Beige Book. New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas reported difficulty finding skilled labor, it said.

Wage pressures were stable or slightly higher in most districts, and prices generally were stable or slightly higher, the document said.

The Federal Reserve issues the Beige Book every month, summarizing comments received from business and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve. Each Fed district compiles the Beige Book on a rotating basis; the Richmond district compiled the current report.

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