Fed: U.S. Economy Expanded at 'Moderate Pace' in April and May

Fed's Beige Book review provides more positive view of the economy than other recent reports.

Conditions in the U.S. economy generally improved over the April-May period, according to the Federal Reserve's regular Beige Book regional review released Wednesday.

Most of the central bank's 12 regions reported improving conditions, and the Fed said "overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace," better than its previous formulation in early April of "a modest to moderate pace."

The Beige Book survey -- which will frame the discussions at the Fed's next policy meeting on June 19-20 -- comes as the data from other government and private agencies has cast a much dimmer picture for growth.

Slower-than-expected growth and jobs data released in recent weeks has given rise to expectations that the Fed might expand its stimulus operations at that meeting.

But the Beige Book was more upbeat than some of the other recent data. Only one of the 12 districts, Philadelphia, reported slower expansion since the last report.

"Manufacturing continued to expand in most districts. Consumer spending was unchanged or up modestly. New vehicle sales remained strong and inventories of some popular models were tight," the Fed said.

Meanwhile, worries expressed in the previous report that gasoline prices were holding back economic activity diminished, as the price of the fuel has fallen.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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