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Economy growing slow and steady: Beige Book
NEW YORK (6/5/14)--Though at a "moderate to modest" pace, economic activity picked up in all 12 Federal Reserve districts between April and mid-May, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, released Wednesday.

The report, compiled by the Federal Bank of New York between April 7 and May 23, amasses information on the economy nationwide to offer a snapshot of current conditions.

Improvements were led by the auto industry, as "increasingly strong" new vehicle sales were reported by more than half of the districts, while the rest reported at least steady sales. Demand for used vehicles waned by comparison.

Consumer spending also climbed in nearly all 12 districts--though by varying degrees--tourism numbers spiked, and non-auto retail sales grew moderately.

"As the weather has improved, industries that require foot traffic, such as retail and auto sales, have been showing noticeable improvement," wrote Christopher Velarides, Moody's analyst ( Economy.com June 4).

Low housing inventories suppressed sales in the real estate market, while home prices again stepped up throughout most of the United States. Condo and apartment rental markets boomed, and multifamily or apartment construction also is gathering momentum.

Lending throughout the country also gained steam, with about two-thirds of the districts relaying an uptick in loan demand. And while credit standards stood pat, credit delinquency rates and quality improved.

The labor market also broadened, as hiring was stronger for this period throughout the country, with several districts even reporting shortages of skilled workers. Wages have remained flat, however.

Manufacturing activity picked up, including at a notably strong pace in many districts along the East Coast, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.


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