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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beige Book - continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from mid-February through late March

The release of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book on Wednesday afternoon indicated that the U.S. economy “continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from mid-February through late March.”
Highlights from the Beige Book – a collection of economic reports from each regional branch of the U.S. central bank – included:
- Manufacturing continued to expand in most Districts, with gains noted in automotive and high-technology industries.
- Manufacturers in many Districts expressed optimism about near-term growth prospects, but they are somewhat concerned about rising petroleum prices.
- While the near-term outlook for household spending was encouraging, contacts in several Districts expressed concerns that rising gas prices could limit discretionary spending in the months to come.
- Residential real estate showed some improvement, with many contacts citing expansion in the construction of multi-family housing.
- Banking conditions were largely stable, with some improvement seen in loan demand. Several Districts reported increased credit quality.
- Hiring was steady or showed a modest increase across many Districts.
- Overall price inflation was modest. However, contacts in many Districts commented on rising transportation costs due to higher fuel prices.

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