US economy strengthens in 2011

US ECONOMIC activity kept slowly gaining strength as 2011 opened and manufacturers and retailers were having some success in pushing their prices up, the Federal Reserve said yesterday.

“Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in January and early February,” the central bank’s Beige Book summary said. It was based on information collected in all the regional Fed districts on or before 18 February and was compiled by the Atlanta regional bank.

While the Beige Book indicates a strengthening economy, it was not spread evenly across the country. “Chicago reported that although there was an increase in activity, it was at a pace not quite as strong as during the previous reporting period,” the Fed said. Wage growth was weak but businesses were trying to boost prices to make up for higher costs of other items such as raw materials that they needed.

In a further boost for the US?economy, American private employers added 217,000 jobs in February, beating analysts’ expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed yesterday

The January figure was revised higher to 189,000 from 187,000.