U.S. ECONOMICS: Beige Book Shows Overall Moderate Growth
Federal Reserve's Beige Book characterized growth as "moderate" to "modest," and indicated all 12 Districts expanded. The anecdotal report of conditions also indicated consumer spending expanded in almost all Districts, to varying degrees. Non-auto sales were up moderately, with improved weather helping to boost activity. Manufacturing activity expanded throughout the country. The service sector also generally saw growth across most Districts, although NY and SF reported more mixed performances.
Residential real estate was mixed, with inventories restraining sales in some regions. Home prices were generally higher. Construction activity was mixed, though multi-family was robust. Overall lending activity increased.
Labor market conditions generally strengthened, with hiring steady to stronger across most of the nation, with some regions noting a shortage of skilled workers. Wage increases remain mostly subdued, but Chicago and Dallas noted increased costs for healthcare. Prices for inputs and finished goods were steady to slightly higher.
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