Fed survey shows US economy gaining momentum

‘Beige Book’ of economic conditions points to rebound in activity after severe U.S. winter

‘Beige Book’ of economic conditions points to rebound in activity after severe U.S. winter

New York - Economic growth has picked up across almost all the United States in recent weeks after the most severe winter in recent history disrupted activity throughout the country, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. 

The central bank’s regional survey of economic and business conditions, known as the Beige Book, showed that eight of the Fed’s 12 regional districts saw “modest to moderate” growth in activity.

“Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts suggest economic activity increased in most regions of the country since the previous report” as “several districts reported that the impact of winter weather was less severe than earlier this year," the Fed said.

According to the report, some of the largest districts, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, reported a rebound in growth, as consumers took advantage of better weather to go shopping. However, not all regions reported an improvement, with the Cleveland and St. Louis districts both experiencing a decline in economic activity. 

“Consumer spending increased in most Districts, as weather conditions improved and foot traffic returned,” the report said, noting that car sales were up in the New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco districts.  

In addition, the Fed said assessments of tourism were generally positive, particularly for the districts of Philadelphia, Richmond, and Minneapolis, where ski resorts have experienced record seasons. For the approaching summer months, activity was also promising as bookings were also solid in several districts, according to the survey. 

The widely-tracked Beige Book is compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The latest edition included anecdotal economic data collected before April 7, which will be considered along with other key economic measures by Fed policymakers when they next meet on April 29 and 30 to decide on benchmark interest rates.                              

The latest Beige Book findings are broadly in line with a series of recent economic releases on manufacturing activity, retail sales and labor markets, which have all indicated the U.S. economy is regaining momentum after a lackluster start to the year.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said earlier Wednesday at the Economic Club of New York that the central bank is committed to maintain “the appropriate degree of accommodation to support the recovery." 

Market analysts at Western Business Solutions said in a note to clients that the Fed Beige Book survey offered “a fairly upbeat assessment of the economy’s prospects.”

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