Fed''s Beige Book: Growth Continued Across Most of U.S.


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Fed's Beige Book Shows Growth Continued Across Most of U.S.


WASHINGTON—Economic growth has continued across most of the U.S., though some businesses reported uncertainty persisting in the wake of the presidential election, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday.

The Fed's latest roundup of anecdotal information on regional economic conditions, known as the beige book, said seven of the central bank's 12 districts reported moderate or modest growth from early October through mid-November, and an additional three reported slight growth. Most districts had also seen moderate or modest growth in the prior reporting period, from late August through early October.

"Outlooks were mainly positive, with six districts expecting moderate growth," the latest report said.

"With the presidential election behind them and the holiday shopping season approaching, retailers are looking for sales to improve," the Cleveland district reported.

In some areas, however, the Fed report indicated that uncertainty continued even after President-elect Donald Trump's victory.

In the Boston district, "the outlook among contacts was cautiously optimistic, on balance, and most agreed that it was too soon to predict the impact on commercial real estate markets of the incoming Trump administration."

In the Cleveland district, "two contacts said that firms are postponing investment decisions until more is known about the tax policies of the incoming president."

And in the San Francisco district, "contacts reported that demand for health-care services remained strong, but the election outcome had greatly increased uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and raised concerns about the possibility of slower industry growth and cutbacks in the near term."

The report was released two weeks before the Fed's next scheduled policy meeting on Dec. 13-14. Economic forecasters and financial markets expect the central bank will announce a quarter-percentage-point increase in its benchmark short- term interest rate, which it has held in a range of 0.25% to 0.50% since December 2015.

The Fed, at its last meeting in early November, "judged that the case for an increase in the target range had continued to strengthen and that such an increase could well become appropriate relatively soon," Chairwoman Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Nov. 17.

Wednesday's report found labor markets tightening in a majority of districts, with continued expansion in employment accompanied by generally modest wage growth. Price pressures were described as slight.

"Staffing services reported rising wages or difficulty filling positions without wage increases in a majority of the districts," the report said.

Reports were mixed in some sectors. Most districts reported declining auto sales, low commodity prices still weighed on farm incomes, and "a few" districts said the strong dollar was a "headwind to more robust demand." The New York district reported that Broadway-show attendance "slumped in October and early November," though higher ticket prices kept theater revenue afloat.

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com and Anna Louie Sussman at anna.sussman@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  11-30-161435ET
  Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.



This article appears in: Economy


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