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Slow growth continues, Fed says

The threat of federal cutbacks did not appear to significantly affect the New England economy, which continued to grow slowly, according to the Federal Reserve.

The residential real estate market across the region showed “robust sales growth and modest price increases,” the Fed reported. Retailers and manufacturers were generally upbeat about sales in 2013 and employment was “relatively stable.”

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The report, known as the Beige Book, collects anecdotal information about the economy from businesses and other sources and publishes it eight times a year. Nationally, the report found modest to moderate growth across the Fed’s 12 districts.

In New England, retailers cited strong demand for clothing, home furnishings, and furniture. In tourism, room revenues are expected to rise about 6 percent in 2013, even though hotel occupancy rates are expected to be flat.

Low interest rates, affordable prices, and improving economic conditions helped spur local housing markets, according to the Fed. Real estate agents reported that multiple bids on properties have become increasingly common in Greater Boston

But the survey noted “lackluster activity” in the technology sector, a key driver of the Massachusetts economy. High-tech companies, according to the Fed, described “weaker-than-expected demand and delays in executing large license agreements, driven in part by economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe and Japan.”

The report also said that commercial real estate activity “picked up” in Hartford and Providence as investors were priced out of Boston and other primary markets. There were also concerns about overbuilding in Boston’s apartment market.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com.
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