11:49 p.m.
Thursday, 27 July 2017

Fed says U.S. growth is proceeding ‘at a moderate pace’

El Centro, California.- The U.S. economy posted a moderate pace of growth between late February and early April, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace during the reporting period from late February to early April.

Activity in the Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City Districts was characterized as growing at a moderate pace, while the Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco Districts noted modest growth. The New York and Dallas Districts indicated that the pace of expansion accelerated slightly since the previous Beige Book. Most Districts noted increases in manufacturing activity since the previous report.

Particular strength was seen in industries tied to residential construction and automobiles, while several Districts reported uncertainty or weakness in defense-related sectors. Consumer spending grew modestly, and firms in some Districts cited higher gasoline prices, expiration of the payroll tax cut, and winter weather as factors restraining sales growth.

Retailers in several Districts expect continued sales growth in the near term. Overall vehicle sales remained strong or increased, but sales of used automobiles declined in some Districts. Travel and tourism expanded across most reporting Districts, boosted by both business and leisure travel.

Demand for nonfinancial services increased at a modest pace, and several Districts noted growth in freight and transportation services. Most Districts said residential and commercial real estate improved markedly since the last report. Home prices were rising in many areas of the country.

Loan demand was steady to slightly up in most Districts. Reports on agricultural conditions were mixed, as drought or cold weather adversely impacted some Districts while others reported a strong agricultural sector. Oil and natural gas activity remained robust over the reporting period, with contacts in the Cleveland, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts expecting a rise in activity in coming months, while coal production continued to decline.

Employment conditions remained unchanged or improved somewhat, and reports of hiring were most prevalent in the manufacturing, residential construction, information technology, and professional services sectors.

Wage pressures were generally contained, although several Districts cited upward pressures in occupations experiencing labor shortages, such as information technology, construction, and engineering. Aside from reports of increases in home prices and residential construction materials, price pressures remained mostly subdued across Districts.

Outlooks among respondents remained optimistic across sectors and Districts, with growth mostly expected to continue at the same or a slightly improved pace. Some uncertainty remained, primarily regarding fiscal policy and health care reform.

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