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Fed Beige Book Shows Slight Economic Gains, and Some Losses

The Federal Reserve Board released an update of the Beige Book today, which provides a snapshot of economic conditions across the country. The Federal Reserve Districts of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco comprised the surveyed cities, which serve as barometers for the country's financial health.

Overall economic activity increased slightly since its last report on March 3. St. Louis showed the only market decline of the cities considered. Overall, tourism spending, manufacturing, and housing markets saw gains, while commercial real estate and labor markets remained weak, and banking and finance pulled mixed results.

Manufacturers in all surveyed cities except St. Louis reported increases in orders, shipments, or production. Increased auto production was noted in Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago, and high-tech and energy-related items also fared well. But construction-related goods found mixed conditions. St. Louis reported more plant closures than openings.

Commercial real estate remained slow in all areas. Only Richmond, which saw an increase in commercial leasing, made gains. In Manhattan, Class A office rents were down 20 to 25 percent, and commercial construction everywhere remained sluggish.

Hiring activity in the labor market remained slow, but temporary worker hiring grew.

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