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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 19:22 GMT
US economy: Sluggish growth
Federal Reserve building
Fed: Economy picking up, but not storming ahead.
US growth was "sluggish to moderate" in February, with a reduction in production by factories and a slowdown in job creation being balanced by a slight rise in consumer spending, a widely awaited report by the US Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

The Beige Book, a report on current business conditions based on evidence gathered by the 12 regional Federal Reserve districts, reported that wages were on the slide and prices remained flat in February for most products.

One exception was energy prices which rose.

Deep discounts in winter merchandise boosted consumer spending, while car sales were steady, though they fell compared to last year.

Sales of new and existing homes continued to be fairly brisk in many regions, bolstered by cheaper mortgage rates, the report noted.

The Beige Book will be used by the US central bank's policy setting Open Market Committee which will meet on 20 March.

The Federal Reserve has long been expected to cut interest rates for a third time this year, and the Beige Book's note that inflationary pressures were absent did not change that view.

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09 Aug 00 | Business
US economy 'slowing'
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