By Ben Leubsdorf and Anna Louie Sussman
WASHINGTON--Economic growth has continued across most of the U.S., though some businesses reported uncertainty persisting in the wake of the presidential election, according to a Federal Reserve report released on Wednesday.
The Fed's latest roundup of anecdotal information on regional economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, said seven of the central bank's 12 districts reported moderate or modest growth from early October through mid-November, and an additional three reported slight growth. Most districts had also seen moderate or modest growth in the prior reporting period, from late August through early October.
"Outlooks were mainly positive, with six districts expecting moderate growth," the latest report said.
The prior Beige Book report, released on Oct. 19, had repeatedly cited the upcoming Nov. 8 presidential election as a source of uncertainty for U.S. businesses. Wednesday's report included reports from various districts of election-related uncertainty or jitters weighing on staffing-firm placements, motor-vehicle sales and home-buying activity.
"With the presidential election behind them and the holiday shopping season approaching, retailers are looking for sales to improve," the Cleveland district reported.
In some areas, however, the Fed report indicated that uncertainty continued even after President-elect Donald Trump's victory.
In the Boston district, "the outlook among contacts was cautiously optimistic, on balance, and most agreed that it was too soon to predict the impact on commercial real estate markets of the incoming Trump administration."
In the Cleveland district, "twocontacts said that firms are postponing investment decisions until more is known about the tax policies of the incoming president."
And in the San Francisco district, "contacts reported that demand for health-care services remained strong, but the election outcome had greatly increased uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and raised concerns about the possibility of slower industry growth and cutbacks in the near term."
The report was released two weeks before the Fed's next scheduled policy meeting on Dec. 13-14. Economic forecasters and financial markets expect the central bank will announce a quarter-percentage point increase in its benchmark short-term interest rate, which it has held at a range of 0.25% to 0.5% since December 2015.
The Fed, at its last meeting in early November, "judged that the case for an increase in the target range had continued to strengthen and that such an increase could well become appropriate relatively soon," Chairwoman Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Nov. 17.
Wednesday's report found labor markets tightening in a majority of districts, with continued expansion in employment accompanied by generally modest wage growth. Price pressures were described as slight.
"Staffing services reported rising wages or difficulty filling positions without wage increases in a majority of the districts," the report said.
Reports were mixed in some sectors. Most districts reported declining auto sales, low commodity prices still weighed on farm incomes and "a few" districts said the strong dollar was a "headwind to more robust demand." The New York district reported that Broadway-show attendance "slumped in October and early November," though higher ticket prices kept theater revenues afloat.
The Fed's Beige Book report can be accessed at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/beigebook/default.htm
Write to Ben Leubsdorf at firstname.lastname@example.org and Anna Louie Sussman at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 30, 2016 14:15 ET (19:15 GMT)
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