05.12.2018 20:24:48

Fed's Beige Book Indicates Modest-To-Moderate Economic Expansion

(RTTNews) - Most of the twelve Federal Reserve districts reported that their economies expanded at a modest or moderate pace from mid-October through late November, according to the Fed's Beige Book released on Wednesday.

The Beige Book is a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts released shortly before the central bank makes its decision on monetary policy.

The Fed noted both the Dallas and Philadelphia districts saw slower growth compared with the prior Beige Book period, while the St. Louis and Kansas City districts saw just slight growth.

The report said consumer spending held steady on balance, as district reports on growth of non-auto retail sales appeared somewhat weaker but auto sales tended to improve, particularly for used cars.

While tariffs remained a concern for manufacturers, a majority of districts continued to report moderate growth in the sector.

The Fed also said labor markets tightened further across a broad range of occupations, with over half of the districts citing firms for which employment, production, and sometimes capacity expansion had been constrained by an inability to attract and retain qualified workers.

On the inflation front, the Beige Book said prices rose at a modest pace in most districts, although a few noted moderate increases. Nearly all districts reported that input costs rose faster than final goods prices.

The report noted optimism in some districts has waned, as contacts cited increased uncertainty from the impacts of tariffs, rising interest rates, and labor market constraints.

The release of the Beige Book comes as the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point at its next monetary policy meeting later this month.