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U.S. Fed survey says economic activity increased

2010-04-16 08:58 BJT

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Economic recovery in the United States is spreading in most parts of the country, except one district reported "softened," the Federal Reserve said Wednesday in its latest survey on business conditions.

The survey, known as Beige Book, was based on economic information supplied by the Fed's 12 regional banks and collected before April 5, and struck a more positive tone than the last survey, which was released on Feb. 22.

The snapshot of economic conditions found that 11 districts reported that economic activity "increased." Only St. Louis reported that economic activity softened.

Districts generally reported increase in retail sales and vehicle sales.

Manufacturing activity has strengthened since the last report in all Districts, except St. Louis, and new orders were up.

While labor markets generally remained weak, some hiring activity was evident, particularly for temporary staff, the Fed reported.

Unemployment rate, currently at 9.7 percent, is not expected to fall significantly in this year and 2010.

According to the latest forecast by the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, the U.S. unemployment will remain at about 9 percent through the end of 2011.

Price pressures remained level in general, but some input prices increased, according to the Beige Book.

The survey summarizes comments received from business and other contacts outside the Fed and is not a commentary on the views of Fed officials.

But its findings will figure into discussions when Fed policymakers meet to consider their stance on interest rates and other monetary issues on April 27-28. Economists predict the Fed will continue to hold rates unchanged to boost the recovery.

The Fed has been keeping its federal funds rates at historic low level of zero to 0.5 percent since December 2008.

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: Xinhua