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Fed reports modest growth in N.E.

Economic activity in New England grew modestly, boosted by an improving housing market, although few new jobs were created, according­ to a survey by the Federal Reserve.

Retailers said sales were slower than expected and tourism softened, partly due to a prolonged winter. Tourist activity from Europe dropped about 5 percent this quarter, compared with a year ago, but business travel and entertaining remained strong.

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The Federal Reserve surveys businesses across its 12 districts eight times annually to gauge the economic climate, publishing its findings in its Beige Book report, released Wednesday. The findings are among the information that Fed policy makers consider in determining interest rates and other economic measures. They next meet April 30 to May 1.

Of the dozen manufacturing companies interviewed, more than half reported that demand for their products improved in the first quarter, compared with the quarter a year earlier. The two companies reporting the strongest sales growth in the region were in the health care sector, a drug company and a medical device maker.

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