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Fed survey finds US economy growing moderately

WASHINGTON — Economic growth held steady across the United States from July through late August as Americans bought more cars and homes and auto factories added workers.

A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday showed that all 12 of the Fed’s banking districts reported modest to moderate growth — roughly in line with the Fed’s late May through early July survey.

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The survey, known as the beige book, said job growth was steady and manufacturing hiring improved modestly, especially at auto and auto-parts factories.

But the Kansas City and San Francisco districts said federal spending cuts had caused production cutbacks at defense plants.

The beige book is based on anecdotal reports from businesses gathered by the Fed’s regional banks. The information was collected for the Fed’s next meeting on Sept. 17-18.

The overall economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter. Many analysts believe that growth in the July-September quarter will be 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

The Fed found that the New England economy continues to expand at a modest pace, with many firms reporting higher sales and some noting double-digit increases from a year ago.

Commercial real estate construction in Boston was described as robust, while local real estate firms said rising interest rates were nudging buyers into the market. Hiring, however, remained lackluster, except in the region’s booming technology firms, according the Fed.

Some economists believe the economy is strong enough for the Fed to begin slowing its bond purchases. Others say the Fed may hold off because it wants to see more data.

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