Federal Reserve's Beige Book reports small improvements

City A.M. Reporter
US economic conditions stabilised or improved modestly in most parts of the country, according to a Federal Reserve report yesterday that suggested the economy was slowly clawing out of a recession.<br /><br />In its &ldquo;Beige Book&rdquo; of anecdotal reports on the economy, which was based on information collected before 13 October, the central bank noted improvement in two of the hardest hit areas &ndash; residential real estate and manufacturing.<br /><br />The central bank gave a grim assessment of commercial real estate, which is widely seen as one of the big remaining trouble spots for the still-struggling financial sector.<br /><br />Labour markets were typically characterised as weak or mixed, although there were &ldquo;occasional pockets of improvement&rdquo;. That assessment supported the view that the worst of the job losses are over, but it may be a while before growth resumes.<br /><br />The report said the &ldquo;cash for clunkers&rdquo; car sales incentive programme left depleted inventories and slower sales in its wake. Overall spending remained weak in most districts, although &ldquo;some improvements&rdquo; were noted. The government&rsquo;s $8,000 (&pound;4,418) first-time homebuyers&rsquo; tax credit also helped to lift sales of low- to middle-priced houses, the Fed said.