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Beige Book shows modest growth in economy

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The economy continued growing between September and early October but at a modest pace, according to the Federal Reserve. Still, the Beige Book, which gathers anecdotal evidence of economic conditions in the dozen Fed districts nationwide, showed lingering weakness in the housing market with lower home sales in most districts. "There were scattered reports of some improvement in sales in a few districts, however," the central bank said. "Philadelphia noted an increase in sales of existing homes, and Richmond, Kansas City, and Dallas reported upticks in sales of higher-priced homes. Sales reports were mixed in the St. Louis and Minneapolis Districts, with increases in some metro areas and declines in others." In early September, the Fed said the economy was growing at a slower rate than prior periods. The current report comes as the Federal Open Market Committee prepares to convene in two weeks. Many expect the Fed to announce a decision to increase the level of purchases of Treasury securities, know as quantitative easing. Although some question the tactic. The Fed said construction of single-family homes was "at very low levels" during the period with slight improvements in the Midwest. Homebuilders in Texas told the Fed they've "pulled back on starts considerably after the run-up earlier in the year. Sales of commercial properties were low overall, as well. Although Chicago and Dallas reported strong demand for sales of distressed commercial properties. "Given lackluster demand for commercial space, nonresidential construction activity was limited to mostly public projects," according to report, which is published eight times a year. The Beige Book showed continued expansion in manufacturing activity during the period with production and new orders up in most districts. The Fed said overall consumer spending was flat to up slightly, as "purchases were mostly limited to necessities and non-discretionary items." The central bank's data also showed car sales during the period were steady to up and activity in the travel and tourism sector rose, as well. This year's final Beige Book will be available Dec. 1. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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