Fed finds moderate growth
The U.S. economy was growing at a moderate pace in most regions of the country in April and May, as consumers ramped up spending at retailers and auto dealers, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.
In its latest survey of business conditions around the country, the Fed said that manufacturing activity held steady or increased, except in the energy industry. Some companies laid off workers and cut back on drilling activities in response to the big fall in oil prices over the last year.
The report, known as the beige book, will be reviewed at the Fed’s June 16-17 meeting. Economists expect the central bank’s policymakers to delay any rate hike until they see more signs of an economic rebound.
Four districts — Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis — reported moderate growth in manufacturing, while some other districts said growth was f lat during the survey period.
The report found wide- ranging consequences from the fall in energy prices, with more than half the Fed’s 12 districts reporting a negative impact on companies that either operate in the energy sector or provide services to energy companies.
The report noted that consumer spending rose in all districts except Richmond, Va., and New York. The drop in gas prices was spurring a shift from sales of cars to light trucks and sport utility vehicles. Tourism also picked up in a number of districts, lifting demand for hotel and resort bookings.