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Fed Sees Growth 'Moderating'

U.S. growth is "moderating," but labor markets remain tight, according to the latest Federal Reserve survey of economic conditions.

The central bank's so-called Beige Book said the pace of economic expansion slowed in September and October, as the retail and manufacturing sectors experienced some signs of weakness.

"Virtually all (Fed) districts reported that businesses and consumers remained cautious about the economic outlook," the Beige Book said.

Banks also exhibited renewed cautiousness, "as many lenders were reported to be tightening standards somewhat, mostly on business loans," the Fed said.

Despite some softness in the economy, "labor markets remained very tight in most districts, although demand for workers in manufacturing industries was softening in some areas," the Fed said.

Inflation, a big concern early in the year when it appeared the economy might be overheating, was not a factor, the Fed indicated.
"Upward pressure on most wages remained subdued," the Beige Book said. "Prices at the retail level were little changed, while producers' prices for intermediate inputs were generally flat to down."

Real estate and construction, bolstered by low interest rates, maintained their strength, though the Fed noted that tighter lending standards appeared to be slowing activity in the commercial sector.

The latest Beige Book, prepared by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, was based on information collected before Oct 26. The report is used by central bankers in their discussions on U.S. interest rates. The next meeting of the central bank's rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee is Nov 17.

Written By Jeffry Bartash

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