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Economy Expanding At Moderate Rate, Fed Says

The U.S. economy held steady with "modest to moderate" growth between early July and late August, as Americans bought more cars and auto factories ramped up hiring.

The Federal Reserve's so-called Beige Book, comprising reports from 12 geographic districts around the country, showed that manufacturing activity "expanded modestly" and several districts ... [expressing] that demand for inputs related to autos, housing, and infrastructure were strong."

"Chicago highlighted the auto industry as a main source of strength for that District's overall manufacturing sector, and contacts there expect demand for heavy and medium trucks to ratchet up further and to support growth in overall manufacturing for the remainder of the year."

The Associated Press says: "Recent economic data has been mixed, but not weak enough to suggest any upset to a sluggish recent recovery, which is slowly bringing down unemployment."

The Beige Book report pointed also to activity in the real estate, with "rising home prices and mortgage interest rates may have spurred a pickup in recent market activity, as many "fence sitters" were prompted to commit to purchases. and construction sector, an uptick in tourism and a modest improvement in the nonfinancial services sector.

Hiring, it said, held steady or increased somewhat in most regions, with St. Louis in particular reporting increases in employment in manufacturing.

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