WASHINGTON – A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday found the U.S. economy grew in most parts of the country in January and February, helped by stronger auto sales, better hiring and further gains in housing.
The survey noted that 10 of the Fed’s 12 regional banking districts reported moderate or modest growth. The Boston and Chicago districts reported slow growth.,
The report, known as the Beige Book, is based on anecdotal information gathered by the regional banks.
Here are some highlights:
BOSTON (includes Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and part of Connecticut):
Economic activity expanded slowly. Most retailers reported higher sales compared with a year ago. Half of manufacturers contacted for the survey reported higher sales but they were upbeat about their prospects in 2013.
NEW YORK (includes New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey):
Economic activity expanded moderately. Business contacts reported some increases in the prices they have to pay but few said they were increasing their sales prices. The labour market showed scattered signs of improvement.
PHILADELPHIA (includes Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey):
Economic activity grew modestly. Sales of new and used cars showed growth while many retail stores reported faster sales growth. Ski resorts reported a good season.
CLEVELAND (includes Ohio, Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia):
The economy grew at a modest pace. Orders to factories and factory production showed steady or slight increases. The momentum from housing construction seen at the end of 2012 carried over into 2013. Auto sales showed solid gains.
RICHMOND (includes Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, District of Columbia and part of West Virginia):
Economic activity grew moderately with manufacturing strengthening. Tourism also picked up. Retail sales rose but auto sales slowed from recent highs. Residential real estate activity grew at a modest pace.
ATLANTA (includes Georgia, Alabama, Florida and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee):
Economic conditions improved modestly with the outlook among most business contacts remaining generally optimistic. Retailers cited mild sales growth but tourism remained a bright spot. Home sales and prices were higher than a year ago.
CHICAGO (includes Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of Illinois and Indiana):
Economic activity expanded slowly. Many business contacts expect growth to stay weak in the first half of 2013, partly because of uncertainty over federal spending cuts. But they expect activity to rebound in the second half of this year.
ST. LOUIS (Includes Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky, and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi):
Economic activity expanded at a moderate pace. Reports on manufacturing have been positive and retail sales over the past three months were stronger than the same period a year ago. Residential real estate conditions continued to improve.
MINNEAPOLIS (includes Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan):
The region experienced moderate growth with increased activity in consumer spending, tourism and manufacturing. Construction and real estate posted strong growth. Wage increases were moderate and prices were generally stable.
KANSAS CITY (includes Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Missouri and New Mexico):
The economy showed modest improvement. Retail sales slowed at the beginning of the year. Auto sales improved compared with a year ago. Residential real estate activity increased. Drought conditions persisted with the winter wheat crop hurt by lack of moisture.
DALLAS (includes Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana):
The economy expanded at a moderate pace. Retail sales were flat or up only modestly while auto dealers noted a slowdown. Housing demand remained strong and activity in the energy sector remained at high levels.
SAN FRANCISCO (includes California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii and Alaska):
Economic activity expanded at a modest pace. Retail sales rose and manufacturing activity increased. Housing activity rose further and commercial real estate activity also expanded. Banks reported increases in loan activity.