Fed’s Beige Book Says U.S. Economy Expanded Modestly, Notes Some Easing Of Price Growth

Economic activity in the U.S. has expanded modestly since early September, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, although the report noted conditions varied across industries and districts.

The Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in each of the twelve Fed districts, said four districts saw flat activity and two cited declines, with slowing or weak demand attributed to higher interest rates, inflation, and supply disruptions.

The Fed described retail spending as relatively flat due to lower discretionary spending, while manufacturing activity held steady or expanded in most districts in part due to easing in supply chain disruptions.

Rising mortgage rates and elevated house prices further weakened single-family starts and sales, the Beige Book said, with bankers in most districts reporting declines in loan volumes partly due to shrinking residential real estate lending.

However, the Fed noted the weakness in the housing market helped buoy apartment leasing and rents, which generally remained high.

With regard to inflation, the Beige Book noted price growth remained elevated but acknowledged some easing across several districts.

“Significant input price increases were reported in a variety of industries, though some declines in commodity, fuel, and freight costs were noted,” the Fed said.

The Beige Book also said employment continued to rise at a modest to moderate pace in most districts, although some districts noted businesses were hesitant to add to payrolls amid increased concerns of an economic downturn.

“Overall labor market conditions remained tight, though half of Districts noted some easing of hiring and/or retention difficulties,” the Fed added.

The Beige Book is typically released two weeks ahead of the Fed’s next monetary policy meeting, with the next meeting scheduled for November 1-2.

CME Group’s FedWatch Tool currently indicates a 97.9 percent chance of another 75 basis point interest rate hike at the meeting.

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