Fed's Beige Book: Construction, Auto Sales Boost Economy

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The U.S. economy posted a moderate pace of growth between late February and early April, supported by improved conditions in the construction sector and rising house prices in many parts of the country, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

The account by the Fed's 12 regional banks was slightly more upbeat than the previous Beige Book survey, with Dallas and New York noting a slight acceleration in the pace of expansion, while five saw growth as moderate, and the other five as modest.

"Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve districts suggest overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace during the reporting period from late February to early April," the Fed said, summarizing the anecdotal findings of the 12 banks.

"Aside from reports of increases in home prices and residential construction materials, price pressures remained mostly subdued across Districts," it said.

The Fed voted last month to maintain bond purchases at a $85 billion monthly pace and to hold interest rates near zero until unemployment hit 6.5 percent, provided inflation remained under 2.5 percent. The U.S. jobless rate in March was 7.6 percent.

The current Beige Book was prepared by the Dallas Fed, on the basis of information collected on or before April 5.