Highlights from the Fed’s US economic survey

WASHINGTON (AP) — A strong housing recovery and solid auto sales helped the U.S. economy grow at a moderate pace from late February through early April, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

The growth was widespread across the country and slightly faster than the “modest to moderate” pace cited in the previous two surveys.

All of the Fed’s 12 bank districts reported modest or moderate growth. Two districts said growth accelerated from the previous survey.

The report, known as the Beige Book, is based on anecdotal information gathered by the regional banks.

Here are some highlights:

BOSTON (includes Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and part of Connecticut):

Economic activity expanded at a modest pace. Sales at retail stores were slower than expected and tourism weakened, partly because of unusually cold weather. Most manufacturers reported lower demand in the January-March quarter.

NEW YORK (includes New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey):

Economic growth accelerated. Retail sales have been strong and auto sales robust. Tourism has picked up, though Broadway theaters “have been in a bit of a slump.” Bankers reported stronger demand for loans.

PHILADELPHIA (includes Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey):

Business activity expanded modestly. Retail sales and home building slowed since the last report. But home and car sales remained healthy. Tourism grew modestly. Resorts in the Pocono Mountains saw steady activity, though casino revenues have declined.

CLEVELAND (includes Ohio, Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia):

The economy expanded at a moderate pace. Manufacturing orders and production rose. Retailers reported higher sales through the first half of March compared with the period right after the winter holidays. Businesses and consumers were seeking more loans.

RICHMOND (includes Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, District of Columbia and part of West Virginia):

The economy grew at a moderate pace. Manufacturers expanded but at a slower pace than in the previous reporting period. Retail sales shrank. But pickup truck sales were robust. A textile manufacturer said business was slow except for automotive products.

ATLANTA (includes Georgia, Alabama, Florida and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee):

Economic activity advanced at a modest pace. Businesses expressed a more optimistic outlook for the coming months. Retail sales were mixed. Home sales and prices increased. But hiring was “tepid.” Firms remained cautious about adding workers, expressing uncertainty about government spending and tax policies and health care reform.

CHICAGO (includes Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of Illinois and Indiana):

The economy expanded at a modest pace. Businesses were “cautiously optimistic” about the economy. Growth in consumer spending slowed, while business spending picked up. Retailers said colder winter weather delayed the introduction of spring clothing, which sat in warehouses.

ST. LOUIS (Includes Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky, and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi):

Economic activity expanded at a moderate pace. Manufacturers said they planned to hire more and expand their operations. Home sales increased at a steady pace. Auto dealers reported healthy sales and several planned to open new dealerships.

MINNEAPOLIS (includes Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan):

The regional economy grew moderately. Construction and home sales increased at a healthy pace. Consumer spending rose moderately. Truck sales were strong at dealerships in eastern North Dakota. Manufacturing continued to grow.

KANSAS CITY (includes Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Missouri and New Mexico):

Economic activity expanded at a moderate pace. Businesses reported a more optimistic outlook for future activity. Consumer spending was stronger than expected, while manufacturing activity weakened. Home sales rose sharply.

DALLAS (includes Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana):

The economy grew slightly faster than the previous period’s moderate pace. Manufacturing activity picked up. Retail sales and auto sales rose. Home sales increased, pushing up prices. Employment held steady or increased.

SAN FRANCISCO (includes California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii and Alaska):

Economic activity expanded at a modest pace. Manufacturing output increased. Banks reported higher loan demand. Retail sales and new and used car sales rose. “Demand was steady for retail pet products.”

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