U.S. Economy Robust, Inflation Tame Despite Oil Prices

The U.S. economy expanded nationwide in June and inflation was moderate despite record-high oil prices, the Federal Reserve said July 27 in an upbeat "Beige Book" survey. "Reports from all 12 Federal Reserve districts indicate that economic activity continued to expand in June and early July," the monthly report said. Only New York reported a slowing in growth.

"Overall price pressures either eased slightly or remained unchanged in most districts, despite substantial increases in the costs of energy and some building materials," the July Beige Book said.

With crude futures around $60 a barrel feeding into record-high prices at U.S. gas pumps, the state of the oil market might be expected to dent consumer spending in the U.S. But the Beige Book said: "Most districts reported increases in retail sales, and reports on retailers' expectations were generally positive.

The Fed report said the labor market "generally continued to improve, although hiring in several districts was mixed". Skilled worker shortages were reported in several districts, but nearly all districts said wage pressures remained moderate."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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