Fed Beige Book: U.S. Growth 'Remained Sluggish'

By Agence France-Presse U.S. economic growth remained sluggish through mid-October, according to the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book survey of economic conditions released Oct. 23. Most of the 12 Federal Reserve district banks "reported that economic activity remained sluggish," the survey said. Retail sales were "weak" across the country, led in part by a drop in auto sales. Contacts described manufacturing conditions as "'tough,' 'stagnant' and 'sluggish,'" the report said. The Fed Beige Book was designed to provide information to Federal Reserve officials prior to the Nov. 6 policy-making meeting but is not believed to play a major factor in the Fed's monetary policy decisions. This report was based on information collected before Oct. 15. Most analysts believe the Fed will hold rates steady at the Nov. 6 meeting, but they also caution that many economic indicators will be released in the interim that could sway the opinions of the monetary policy-makers. The Beige Book said that labor markets "were lackluster," with few reports of increased hiring and subdued wage gains." Overall prices were reported to be stable, but there were significant increases in prices for health care, insurance and shipping, the report said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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