Most parts of the country logged moderate economic growth in the early spring, despite sluggish manufacturing largely due to the housing slump.
The fresh snapshot of the national economy, released Wednesday by the Federal
Reserve, found that "manufacturing activity was slow" in many areas and that "residential real estate activity continued to weaken, with sales declining in many districts and flat in a number of others."
The latest Beige Book report followed two other reports Wednesday that showed a mixed economic picture.
In one, sales of new homes rebounded slightly in March, helped by better weather, but the gain was not enough to offset big declines in the previous two months, and the increase fell short of economists' estimates.
Meanwhile, orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose 3.4% in March, the fastest clip in three months, helped by the biggest jump in orders by businesses to expand and modernize in 2 1/2 years.
Overall, most regions reported "only modest or moderate expansions," the Fed said. There were some exceptions, though. The Minneapolis region reported "firm growth" and the Dallas region characterized economic activity as "moderately strong."