Modest economic growth in US: Fed Beige Book

Modest economic growth in US: Fed Beige Book

Flat economic activity in New York from April to mid-May

NEW YORK (AA) – The United States’ 12 major regions saw modest economic growth from April to mid-May, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book said Wednesday.

Modest growth was reported in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St. Louis, said the Beige Book, which includes information about economic conditions in the Fed's 12 districts. Economic activity in Richmond expanded in recent weeks.

While growth slowed in Chicago and Kansas City, Dallas showed marginal growth and New York saw flat economic activity.

Several districts noted that business contacts in the regions had "generally optimistic outlooks, with firms expecting growth either to continue at its current pace or to increase," the Book said.

After growing 1.8 percent in 2007, the U.S. economy contracted 0.3 percent in 2008 and 2.8 percent in 2009 during the financial crisis. While the economy grew more than 2 percent after 2012, growth is expected to be 2.7 percent this year and 2.4 percent next year, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, economic indicators watched by the Fed in its rate decision -- such as consumer spending, wages and employment -- were up "modestly" in many of the districts, but labor markets were noted as "tight."

The unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent in April and personal spending was up 1 percent -- the highest monthly increase in the last seven years.

The energy sector remained weak from April to mid-May, the Book said, as most districts pointed to a cut in oil and gas production due to low prices.

Oil drilling continued to decline in Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas, while coal production was down in St. Louis and Kansas City.

The Fed's much-anticipated meeting will take place June 14-15, as the market anticipates the bank's rate hike decision.

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