U.S. Fed sees economy continues to improve

10:26, April 14, 2011      

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The economic activity in the United States continued to improve, with labor and housing markets conditions generally stronger, reported the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that "economic activity generally continued to improve," the central bank said in its latest economic performance survey, "the near-term outlook were most often upbeat."

The survey, known as the Beige Book, was based on economic information supplied by the Fed's 12 regional banks and collected during the reporting period from Late February to April 4.

The Fed said that manufacturing continued to lead, with virtually every District citing examples of "steady improvement," often with reports of increased hiring.

Residential and commercial real estate performance varied across Districts. Seven of the Districts described commercial real estate as slightly improved, while five noted that their markets were flat.

This is a more positive tone about the U.S. housing market than the Fed's previous reports.

The Fed also noted that "most Districts reported signs of improvement in at least some of their labor markets."

Consumer spending picked up modestly across most Districts since the last report, said the Fed.

The survey found that input prices rose in most Districts, particularly for cotton and other agricultural commodities, petroleum-based products, and industrial metals. It also noted that some Districts saw some manufacturers were raising their selling price to pass costs along to customers.

In a previous report, the Fed expressed its concern about inflation, saying that it would keep close watch on inflation expectation.

The Fed has been keeping its federal funds rates at the historic low level of zero to 0.5 percent since December 2008. And the central bank announced last November that it would buy an additional 600 billion dollars in Treasury bonds over the next eight months to help lower interest rates and spur the economy.

The Beige Book report will be used at the next meeting of the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee on April 27.

Many economists expect that the Fed will stick to its government bond buying program which is scheduled to conclude until June.

Source: Xinhua
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