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Fed's Beige Book Paints Brighter Picture Of U.S. Economy

The U.S. economic recovery proceeded at a modest pace in recent months, as manufacturers expressed optimism despite concerns about higher energy prices, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book said Wednesday.

Consumer spending was "encouraging" across a number of the Fed's twelve districts, according to the Beige Book, which gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions.

"Reports on retail spending were positive, with the unusually warm weather being credited for boosting sales," the Beige Book noted.

Residential real estate showed some improvement, confirming speculation that the housing market may be coming back to life after the worst slowdown in decades.

Condo construction was picking up, and non-residential real estate was steady from mid-February through late March.

Manufacturing continued to expand around the nation, with gains seen in automotive and high-technology industries.

Looking at the jobs market, the Fed reported that hiring was steady or showed a modest increase, particularly in the northeast and Midwest regions.

In keeping with the Fed's recent statements indicating subdued inflation expectations, the Beige Book said overall price inflation was modest in most Districts.

by RTT Staff Writer

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