Fed's Beige Book: Economy expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April

In its latest "Beige Book" report, a broad view of the U.S. economy based on surveys with business contacts across all 12 of its districts, the Federal Reserve said that the economy continued to expand at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.

Key quotes (via Reuters)

  • Most Fed districts said growth continued at a similar pace as in previous report, but a few reported some strengthening.
  • Employment continued to increase nationwide, with nine districts reporting modest or moderate growth and the other three reporting slight growth.
  • Majority of districts cited shortages of skilled laborers, most commonly in manufacturing and construction.
  • Tight labor market led to continued wage pressures, with most districts reporting moderate wage growth.
  • Prices on balance have risen modestly since the last report.
  • Reports on consumer spending were mixed but suggested sluggish sales for both general retailers and auto dealers.
  • Reports on manufacturing activity were favorable, although contacts in many fed districts noted trade-related uncertainty.
  • Input costs increased in a modest-to-moderate range, with tariffs, freight costs and rising wages often cited as key factors driving that trend.
  • Some Fed districts noted increasing fuel prices, while others noted increasing oil prices and decreasing natural gas prices.
  • A few government contractors in Fed's Richmond district said business was starting to return to normal after being negatively impacted by the federal government shutdown.
  • Agricultural conditions remained weak among reporting districts, with contacts expressing concerns over the impact of current and future rainfall and flooding.

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