Fed’s Beige Book Paints Positive Picture But With Notable Caveats

A report released by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday said U.S. economic activity expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.

The report, known as the Beige Book, is a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts.

While most districts reported that growth continued at a similar pace as the previous report, the Fed said a few districts reported some strengthening.

The Beige Book showed reports from the Fed districts indicated generally positive conditions in various sectors but noted some caveats.

For instance, the report said reports on manufacturing activity were favorable, although contacts in many districts noted trade-related uncertainty.

Reports of stronger home sales in most districts were similarly tempered by indications of low demand for higher-priced homes.

The Fed also said employment continued to increase nationwide, with nine districts reporting modest or moderate growth and the other three reporting slight growth.

“While contacts reported gains across a variety of industries, employment increases were most highly concentrated in high-skilled jobs,” the central bank said. “However, labor markets remained tight, restraining the rate of growth.”

The Beige Book said prices have risen modestly since the previous report, with tariffs, freight costs, and rising wages often cited as key factors driving a modest-to-moderate increase in input costs.

Looking ahead, the Fed said there was little change in the economic outlook, with contacts in reporting districts expecting slight-to-modest growth in the months ahead.

The release of the Beige Book comes as the Fed is scheduled to hold its next two-day monetary policy meeting on April 30th and May 1st.

CME Group’s Fed Watch tool currently indicates a 99.5 percent chance the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged at its next meeting.

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