The Fed released its Beige Book Wednesday; highlights include:
1. Contact reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace during the reporting period of late November through the end of December;
2. The reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most Districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall;
3. Reports on consumer spending were favorable in general. Most Districts reported that holiday retail sales were up noticeably over last year's season;
4. Demand strengthened further for nonfinancial services, including professional and transportation services. Manufacturing activity generally continued to expand, although the pace of growth has slowed for selected subsectors such as technology products. Agricultural producers and extractors of natural resources reported generally robust conditions; and last but not least
5. Activity in residential real estate markets largely held steady at very low levels, with the exception of further increases in the construction of multifamily residences. Prices were largely stable on a short-term basis in most areas but in many instances were below their levels from twelve months earlier.
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