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Beige Book: Economic Growth Continues at Slow Pace

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If it's not good news, at least it's not bad news. On Wednesday, the latest Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve states national economic activity continues to rise at a moderate pace.

For the period between September and early October, manufacturing activity rose in most districts. The housing market is still weak, and construction levels are "very low," and expected to remain so through the year.

Lending is low, but stable, according to the report. Richmond and Dallas reported increases in lending activity as pressure to price loans more aggressively rises. Mergers and acquisitions increased while demand for commercial and industrial loans remained weak. The Fed reported little change in credit quality.

Consumers remain sensitive to prices, though, and are spending on necessities and nondiscretionary items. Accounting activity increased slightly on mergers and acquisitions. Consulting, especially in health care, increased following regulatory changes.

Prices for goods and services remained stable, despite slightly higher input costs. Most districts reported little change in wage pressures, but there were "widespread reports" of increased costs to employers as a result of health care reform. Probably no surprise then that hiring remains limited. Staffing firms in New York, Dallas and Cleveland all reported reduced demand. Atlanta reported an increase in current resources rather than adding staff.


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