Beige Book: Economy expanding at moderate to modest pace

The U.S. economy expanded at a moderate to modest pace recently, according to the Federal Reserve's latest survey of economic conditions, known as the Beige Book.

The survey offered little to derail those on the Federal Open Market Committee who have said it would be appropriate to raise rates this year. Stocks and bond yields did not move in any significant way following the report.

Consumer spending has been helped by falling oil prices, but in some border districts was hurt by the strength of the dollar, the central bank reported Wednesday.

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Auto sales were up in almost all districts, the Fed said, while home sales were up in most. Tourism was up everywhere except the New York area.

Yet there was little evidence of inflation, with only modest wage pressure and prices noted to be steady.

Earlier Wednesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen told Congress she still expects to raise interest rates later this year, assuming the economy develops as expected.

But as ever, she left the central bank plenty of wiggle room.

"We have no judgment at this point about the appropriate date to raise the federal funds rate. Our judgment about that will depend on unfolding economic developments and how they affect our forecasts," Yellen said.

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Last month, the Beige Book also described the expansion of economic activity as "modest" to "moderate," with real estate improving and signs of labor shortages in some regions.

In this report, the Fed did note employment was picking up in various industries and regions of the country.

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