Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 06:59 UK

US economic outlook 'worsening'

Construction worker
The US housing market remains weak

Conditions in the US economy have worsened noticeably in the past six weeks, the Federal Reserve said in its closely-followed Beige Book report.

The central bank's regular snapshot of business activity across the US described "weaker" conditions and "softening" consumer spending.

The report also described the troubled housing market as "anaemic".

The IMF recently warned that the US economy could be set for a "mild recession" this year.

Some commentators believe the economy may already been in recession, although figures published on Tuesday showed that industrial output actually rose slightly in March.

In a speech on Tuesday, one of the bank's senior officials said that the economy had "all but stalled" and may contract in the first half of the year.

"I am not ruling out a recession," said Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Reserve Bank.

The Beige Book monitors economic activity in 12 of the country's largest business districts.

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