Fed survey sees modest economic growth

A Federal Reserve survey shows the U.S. economy held steady during the 16-day partial government shutdown, growing moderately in most regions from October through late November.

The Fed said seven of its 12 banking districts described growth as moderate. Four — Kansas City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco — said growth was modest. Boston said its regional economy continued to expand.

Manufacturing strengthened in most districts, helped by more production of cars, trucks and high-tech products. Consumers boosted spending in most regions, and retailers were hopeful yet cautious about the holiday shopping season. Hiring improved in five of the districts. The seven others reported little change.

The Beige Book survey is based on anecdotal reports from businesses and will be considered at the Fed’s next meeting, Dec. 17 and 18.

The Kansas City Fed, which monitors a seven-state area that includes Kansas and half of Missouri, reported a slight increase in consumer spending over the past month, “with retail stores moderately optimistic about future sales” during the holiday season.

Regional manufacturing activity also grew in November and several businesses reported plans to hire more skilled workers in coming months.

One weak spot was the agricultural economy. Farmers in the region saw incomes fall because of a sharp drop in crop prices, the report said.