Author: Tronserve admin
Wednesday 28th July 2021 03:03 PM
Fed Sees Moderate Growth but Problems in Trade and Floods
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday the economy was widening at a moderate pace in March and early April, inspite of uncertainty caused by trade tensions and severe flooding in the Midwest.
In its up-to-date report on economic conditions around the country, the Fed said that some districts reported a minor strengthening following a slowdown this winter. But weakness remained, particularly in slower consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.
The Fed report, generally known as the beige book, said that tariffs imposed on imports, higher shipping costs and rising wages had all contributed to some increase in input costs.
The report found prices continued to be low for several farm products, with several districts including St. Louis, Minneapolis and Kansas City voicing concerns about what recent flooding might do to crop production this year.
The beige book conclusions will form the basis for discussion when central bank officials meet on April 30-May 1 to talk about interest rates. The Fed said that reports from the Fed's 12 districts were merged on consumer spending however noticed that home sales were stronger.
The Fed said the outlook had improved for manufacturing "although contacts in many districts noted trade-related uncertainty." Most districts said that home sales were stronger although some districts reported lower demand for higher-priced homes.
With jobless near a 50-year low, the report said that there was lacks of talented workers in manufacturing and construction as well as some technical and professional positions.
Many districts reported that firms were offering perks such as for instance bonuses and expanded benefit packages as a way to attract and retain competent workers.
The central bank boosted its policy rate four times in 2018 and in December indicated it expected two more rate hikes in 2019. Those rate increases motivated sharp attacks from President Donald Trump and contributed to a steep drop in the stock market the later part of last year.
Beginning in January, the Fed has done an about-face on policy and now says its plans to keep rates on hold for the entire year. Trump, however, has kept up his pressure saying the central bank needs should be cutting rates now. Some economists are foretelling of the Fed's next move could well be a rate cut later this year if the economy does not pickup.
This article is originally posted on manufacturing.net