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     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following is the text of the summary section 
of the Federal Reserve's summary of economic conditions report, or Beige 
Book, released Wednesday: 
     Overall Economic Activity 
     Ecconomic activity generally continued to expand modestly in the 
final six weeks of 2019. The Dallas and Richmond Districts noted 
above-average growth, while Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Kansas City 
reported sub-par growth. Consumer spending grew at a modest to moderate
pace, with a number of Districts noting some pickup from the prior 
reporting period. On balance, holiday sales were said to be solid, with 
several Districts noting the growing importance of online shopping. 
Vehicle sales generally expanded moderately, though a handful of 
Districts reported flat sales. Tourism was mixed, with growth reported 
in the eastern seaboard Districts but activity little changed in the 
Midwest and West. Manufacturing activity was essentially flat in most 
Districts, as in the previous report. Business in nonfinancial services 
was mixed but, on balance, growing modestly. Transportation activity 
was also mixed across Districts, with a majority reporting flat to 
weaker activity. Banks mostly characterized loan volume as steady to 
expanding moderately. Home sales trends varied widely across Districts 
but were flat overall, while residential rental markets strengthened. 
Some Districts pointed to low inventories as restraining home sales. 
New residential construction expanded modestly. Commercial real estate 
activity varied substantially across Districts. Agricultural conditions 
were little changed, as was activity in the energy sector. In many 
Districts, tariffs and trade uncertainty continued to weigh on some 
businesses. Expectations for the near-term outlook remained modestly 
favorable across the nation.
     Employment and Wages 
     Employment was steady to rising modestly in most Districts, while 
labor markets remained tight throughout the nation. Most Districts 
cited widespread labor shortages as a factor constraining job growth, 
and, in a few cases, business expansion. A few Districts noted brisk 
demand for professional, technical, and managerial workers. A number 
of Districts reported job cuts or reduced hiring among manufacturers, 
and there were scattered reports of job cuts in the transportation and 
energy sectors. Wage growth was characterized as modest or moderate in 
most Districtssimilar to the prior reporting periodand there were 
scattered reports of wage increases from year-end hikes in minimum 
wages. A few Districts also noted the use of benefits, incentives, 
training programs, and automation to reduce vacancies. 
     Prices continued to rise at a modest pace during the reporting 
period, as did input costs. A number of Districts reported that retail 
selling prices rose at a slightly faster, but still subdued, pace. A 
few Districts indicated that some businesses were passing along tariff 
costs to consumersmostly in retail but also in construction. Some 
Districts noted that restaurants were being pressured by rising food 
prices. There were scattered reports of declining prices in some
manufacturing industries, as well as in the energy sector. Those 
Districts reporting on price expectations indicated that prices were 
expected to continue to rise in the months ahead.  
     * Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York based on 
information collected on or before January 6, 2020. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau (202) 371-2121 

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