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--Report Prepared by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank
--Responses Collected Through January 8, 2018
WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following is the overall summary of the
Federal Reserve's report on Current Economic Conditions, known as The
Beige Book, released Wednesday:
Overall Economic Activity
Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated that the
economy continued to expand from late November through the end of the
year, with 11 Districts reporting modest to moderate gains and Dallas
recording a robust increase. The outlook for 2018 remains optimistic for
a majority of contacts across the country. Most Districts reported that
non-auto retail sales expanded since the last report and that auto sales
were mixed. Some retailers highlighted that holiday sales were higher
than expected. Residential real estate activity remained constrained
across the country. Most Districts reported little growth in home sales
due to limited housing inventory. Nonresidential activity continued to
experience slight growth. Most manufacturers reported modest growth in
overall business conditions. Reports indicated that some manufacturers
increased capital expenditures over the reporting period. Most reporting
Districts noted continued growth in transportation activity. Loan
volumes in many Districts were steady. Among reporting Districts,
agricultural conditions were mixed and energy contacts described a
slight uptick in activity.
Employment and Wages
On balance, employment continued to grow at a modest pace since the
previous report. Most Districts cited on-going labor market tightness
and challenges finding qualified workers across skills and sectors,
which, in some instances, was described as constraining growth. Several
Districts noted elevated demand for manufacturing and construction
labor. Most Districts said that wages increased at a modest pace. A few
Districts observed that firms were raising wages in a broader range of
industries and positions since the previous report. Some Districts
reported that firms expect wages to increase in the months ahead.
Most Districts reported modest to moderate price growth since the
last report; exceptions were Chicago, which noted that prices increased
only slightly while San Francisco noted price inflation was down
slightly. Reports of pricing pressures were mixed across the country
although several Districts noted increases in manufacturing,
construction, or transportation input costs. Firms in some Districts
noted an ability to increase selling prices. Retailers in some Districts
reported modest price increases and there were reports of rising home
prices across most of the country. Agriculture and energy commodity
prices were mixed.
--MNI Washington Bureau;tel: +1 202 371-2121