Beige Book Broadly Optimistic


WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the economy expanded in each of its 12 districts from mid-February through March.

“The economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace,” the central bank said in its latest national survey published eight times a year and referred to as the Beige Book report.

The Fed said manufacturing expanded “in most districts,” with many businesses predicting growth but wary of rising petroleum prices.

Consumer spending, a major portion of the nation’s gross domestic product, “was encouraging,” the Fed said. Even tourism “increased in most reporting districts,” the Fed said.

The central bank, sensitive to sounding overly optimistic about jobs, said, “hiring was steady or showed a modest increase,” and noted “difficulty in finding qualified workers, especially for high-skilled positions.”

Manufacturers in the districts of Cleveland and Dallas “have become more cautious” about expectations in the near-term, and businesses in Boston and Cleveland districts “expressed concern about the European economy.”

Even the agricultural sector has caught a break. “Recent rain and snowfall has helped alleviate dry agricultural conditions from earlier in the year. Nonetheless, the Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas Districts have all reported certain areas where drought conditions continue,” the Fed noted.

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